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From the Library of 













^tantiarti HiBrarp €tiition 





Right Honourable David Lloyd George 

From a painting by Miss Olive Edis 









BOOK II. {Continued), 


XXVI. The Opening of the Dardanelles Campaign 

(September i, 1914-April 27, 1915) • . • i 

The First Hint of an Eastern Diversion — Discussions in 
the War Council — Lord Kitchener, Lord Fisher, and Mr. 
Churchill — Subsidiary versus Divergent Operations- 
Topography and History of the Dardanelles — Justifica- 
tion for the Naval Attack — Fortifications of the Straits 
— The Naval Attack and its Results — The Origin of the 
Military Expedition — Sir Ian Hamilton — The Tacticoi 
Problem — The Battle of the Landing. 

XXVIl. The Second Battle of Ypres (April 17-May 24, 

1915) 42 

Germany's Spring Policy in the West — The Taking of 
Hill 60 — The Gas Attack— The Second Battle of Ypres 
— Its Results — The Ruined City — The Pohtical Situation 
in Britain during April and May — The Formation of a 
Coalition Government. 

XXVIII. The Allied Western Offensive in the Summer 

OF 19 15 (April 5- June 17) 70 

Germany's Summer Strategy — The French in Alsace and 
Lorraine — ^The French Advance in Artois — The British 
Attack at Festubert — ^The Summer's Stagnation — The 
War in the Air. 

XXIX. The Russian Retreat from the Donajetz 

(April 28-June 21, 1915) 89 

Russia's Position in April — Hindenburg's Plan — Macken- 
sen attacks — Retreat of the Russian Armies — The Loss 
of Przemysl smd Lemberg — The Russian Position at Mid- 

XXX. The Beginning of Italy's Campaign (April 26- 

August 21, 1915) "I 

Sonninn's Diplomacy — ^The Treaty of London — Italy 
declares War on Austria — Italy's Strategic Position— 
The First Engagements on the Frontiers — The Beginning 
of the Isonzo Campaign — Italy declares War on Turkey. 


XXXI. The First Year of War: A Retrospect 

(June 28, 1914-June 28, 1915) . . . .139 

The Military Result — Germany's Calculations — Her 
Strength and Weakness — The Position of the Allies — 
The British Problem of Men and Munitions — British 
Finance — The Allies' Lack of Central Direction — The 
Neutral States — The Naval Position — ^The Leaders. 

XXXII. The Asian and African Campaigns (October 

1914-July 9, 1915) 173 

Transcaucasia — The Mesopotamian Campaign — The Cap- 
ture of Nasiriyeh and Kut — The Cameroons — The War 
in German South-West Africa — The Surrender of the 

XXXIII. The Abandonment of Warsaw (June 22- 

August 5, 1915) 189 

Germany exploits her Success — The Crushing of the 
Warsaw Salient — The Advance of Mackensen and Lin- 
singen — The Advance of Gallwitz — Comparison with 
Napoleon's Invasion — Prince Leopold enters Warsaw. 

XXXIV. Gallipoli : The Battles for Krithia (April 

29-July 31, 1915) 206 

The Attack of 6th May — The Australasian Corps at Sari 
Bair — The Battle of 4th June — The Withdrawal of the 
larger Warships — Kitchener's Difficulties — The Action of 
2ist June — The Action of 13th July — Arrival of British 

XXXV. The Straining of America's Patience . . 221 

America's Temper — Reasons for her Hostility to Ger- 
many — The Difficulties of immediate Intervention — ■ 
President Wilson — German Activities in America — Dr. 

XXXVI. Gallipoli : The New Landing (August 6-27, 

1915) 237 

The New Plan — Suvla Bay and its Neighbourhood — ^The 
New British Divisions — The Preliminary Attack at Cape 
Helles — The Anzac Advance on Koja Chemen — The 
Landing at Suvla — Its Failure. 

XXXVII. The Great Russian Retreat (August 5- 

September 30, 1915) 256 

The essential Russian Weakness — Germany's Next Step 
— The Russian Armies' Retreat to the Bug — The Fall 
of Kovno and Novo Georgievsk — The Fall of Brest 
Litovsk — The Fall of Grodno — The Retreat from the 
Vilna Salient — The first Russian Counter-strokes— 
Political Changes. 

XXXVIII. Champagne and Loos (September 23-October 2, 

1915) 2S7 

The Allied Line in the West — The Policy of the New 
Advance — The Great Bombardment — The Attack in 
Champagne — The French Attack in Artois — The British 
Subsidiary Attacks — The Battle of Loos — The Achieve- 
ment of the 15th Division — Summary and Criticism. 


XXXIX. The Balkan Labyrinth 325 

The various Balkan States — Geography and History of 
the Peninsula — The Treaty of Berlin— The Balkan 
League — The First and Second Balkan Wars — Bul- 
garia's Discontent — King Ferdinand — Greece and Veoi- 
zelos — Failure of Allied Diplomacy. 

XL. Bulgaria enters the War (September 19- 

October 15, 1915) . . . . • • -343 

Bulgaria's AlUance with Germany — Mackensen's Army — 
The Intrigues at Sofia — The Position of Greece — The 
Allies send Troops to Salonika. 

XLL The Overrunning of Serbia (September 19, 

1915-January 25, 1916) 358 

Serbia's Military Position — Mackensen's Problem — The 
Advance of Gallwitz and Kovess — Bulgaria's Flank 
Attack — Fall of Uskub — Fall of Nish — The Serbian 
Retreat to the Adriatic — The Allies in Salonika — The 
Austrian Conquest of Montenegro. 

XLIL Gallipoli: The Evacuation (August 21, 1915- 
January 9, 19 16) 380 

Sir Ian Hamilton recalled — Sir Charles Monro's Report 
— Kitchener's Visit to Gallipoli — The Evacuation of 
Suvla and Anzac— The Evacuation of Helles— A Miracu- 
lous Exploit. 

XLIIL Mesopotamia: The Bagdad Expedition (Octo- 
ber 2i-December 3, 1915) 394 

The Turkish Massacres in Armenia — Trouble in Persia 
— The Question of an Advance to Bagdad — The Chief 
Responsibility for it — Townshend reaches Laj — The Battle 
of Ctesiphon — The Retreat to Kut. 

XLIV. The Second Winter in the East and West . 407 

The Fighting at Riga and Dvinsk — The Russian Attack 
on Czernovitz — ^The Aftermath of the Loos and Cham- 
pagne Battles — The Winter Hardships — Sir John 
French surrenders his Command — His Qualities and 

XLV. The Political Situation in France and 

Britain (October i, 1915-January 26, 1916) . 428 

Popular Anxiety — ^The New Ministry in France — Criti- 
cism of the French Staff — The Situation in Britain — 
The Censorship — Edith Cavell — The New General Stafi — 
British Finance — The Recruiting Problem — The Derby 
Report— The Military Service Bill— Parallel with Amer- 
ican Civil War. 

XLVL Some Side-lights on the German Temper . . 451 

The Growth of the Politiques — German Military Opinion 
— Views of German Financiers — The Popular Mind — • 

XLVIL America at the Cross-roads 465 

The Purpose of the Allies — American Ideals — Mr. Wil- 
son's increasing Difficulties — Mr. Elihu Root's Speech — 
The Problem for America narrowed and clarified. 


XLVIII. The Position at Sea (January 24, 1915-Feb- 

ruary 29, 1916) 477 

Tirpitz's Plan — The Allied and German Losses at Sea — 
The German Submarine Campaign — The Baralong 
Incident — ^The British Blockade — German Commerce 
Raiders — The Work of the British Fleet. 

XLIX. The War in the ^gean and in Africa (October 

1915-May 19 16) 493 

Stalemate at Salonika — Bulgaria's Temper — The Posi- 
tion in Constantinople — The Defences of Egypt — ^The 
Defeat of the Senussi — ^The Conquest of the Cameroons 
— Germany's Principles of Colonization. 

L. The Russian Front in the Spring of 1916 

(January ii-April 18) 5^2 

The Battles of Lake Narotch — Yudenitch takes Erzerum 
—Capture of Trebizond. 

LI. The Fall of Kut (December 3, 1915-April 29, 

1916) 527 

The Siege of Kut— The Relieving Force— The Battle 
of 6th and 7th January — ^The Battles of 13th and 21st 
January — The Attempt of 7th to 8th March — The At- 
tempt of 5th April— The Last Efforts- Fall of Kut— 
The Responsibility of the Government of India. 

LII. The Battle of Verdun: First Stage (Feb- 
ruary 2i-April 10, 1916) 539 

The Reasons for Falkenhajm's Plan — Nature of Verdun 
Area — ^The French Position — ^The Attack of 21st Feb- 
ruary — ^The Crisis at Douaumont — Petain's Scheme of 
Defence — The German Attack west of the Meuse — 
The Struggle for Vaux — ^The Flank Attack at Avocourt 
— ^The Position on loth April — Petain — The Achievement 
of the French Soldier. 



Right Honourable David Lloyd George Frontispiece 

Gassed 42 

From a painting by John S. Sargent, R.A. 

The Salt Lake, Suvla Bay 238 

From a painting by Norman Wilkinson 

Marshal Henri-Phillippe Petain 554. 

From a photograph by Melcy, Paris 

Verdun on the Meuse, before Bombardment 566 

From a painting by A. Renaud 


1. The Gallipoli Peninsula 32 

2. The Second Battle of Ypres 56 

3. The Spring Campaign in Artois, 1915 .... 78 

4. The Italian Battle-ground 122 

5. The Mesopotamian Campaign 178 

6. The Campaign in South-west Africa .... 186 

7. The German Advance from the Donajetz to the 

Eve of the Fall of Warsaw 196 

8. The Gallipoli Peninsula : Anzac and Suvla Areas 252 

9. The German Advance from Warsaw to Vilna . . 280 

10. Champagne 298 

11. The Fighting in Artois, September 1915 . . . 302 

12. The Battle of Loos 318 

13. Race Distribution in the Balkans .... 330 

14. The Serbian Campaign 374 

15. Riga and Dvinsk 410 

16. The Western Frontier of Egypt 502 

17. The Cameroons 508 

18. The Erzerum Campaign 524 

19. Mesopotamia : the Kut Area 534 

20. The Verdun Area 572 



September i, i<^i^-April 27, 1915. 

The First Hint of aa Eastern Diversion — Discussions in tlie War Council — Lord 
Kitchener, Lord Fisher, and Mr. Churchill — Subsidiary versus Divergent Opera- 
tions — Topography and History of the Dardanelles — Justification for the 
Naval Attack — Fortifications of the Straits — The Naval Attack and its Results 
— The Origin of the Military Expedition — Sir Ian Hamilton — The Tactical 
Problem — The Battle of the Landing. 

TOWARDS the close of 1914 the mind of the British Cabinet was 
much exercised by the deadlock in the West. To some of its 
members it seemed, in spite of Sir John French's hopefuhiess, that 
the German defence was impenetrable except by an attrition so 
slow that success would entail the bankruptcy of the conqueror. 
They believed victory to be certain, but wished it to come soon, 
and would fain have ended the war before the great drafts on 
Britain's man-power fell due. In this impatience there was a 
sound strategical instinct. There were no flanks to be turned 
in France and Flanders, but vulnerable flanks might be found 
elsewhere. The main gate of the enemy's beleaguered fortress 
was strongly held, but there were various back doors which might 
be found unguarded. Above all, they desired to make use of all 
the assets of Britain, and in the campaign in the West, since Sir 
John French's scheme of an advance by the coast road had been 
discarded, there was no direct part which the British navy could 
play. But in other regions a joint enterprise might be possible, 
where the sea-power of Britain could be used to decisive purpose. 


Accordingly, we find during the winter a great scheme-making 
among Ministers and their technical advisers. Lord Fisher favoured 
a combined military and naval attack on the Schleswig-Holstein 
coast, for which he produced a colossal programme of new con- 
struction. His aim was to get behind the German right wing on 
land, and with the assistance of Russia to clear the Baltic. The 
enterprise seems to have been blessed at various times by Mr. 
Lloyd George and Mr. Churchill, but it faded from the air as it 
became clear that an immediate attack by Sir John French on 
a large scale was out of the question. The entry of Turkey into 
the war convinced the Government that, if a blow was to be 
struck in a new area, that area must be the Near East. Mr. 
Lloyd George's fancy dwelt on Salonika. He was anxious, with 
the co-operation of Greece and Russia, to strike at the flank of 
the Teutonic League, and for the purpose to transfer a large British 
army to Serbia. The scheme was strongly opposed by military 
opinion, which pointed to the poor communications in Serbia for 
an advance and the extreme danger of depleting the British front 
in the West ; and, though Lord Kitchener was prepared at one 
time to agree to a modification of it, the project died when Greece 
refused her assistance. A third alternative remained, which, com- 
pared with the other two, was sane and reasonable — to clear the 
Dardanelles and strike at Constantinople. 

The Dardanelles campaign is one of the most pitiful, tragic, 
and glorious episodes in British history. It can be judged to-day 
as fairly as it is ever likely to be judged, for sufficient details have 
been given to the world. But in telling its story certain obscure 
preliminaries have to be determined before the responsibility for 
its inception can be fixed. Four matters must be recounted ere 
a verdict can be passed : the discussions in the Cabinet before the 
naval action was decreed ; the claims of the enterprise as a whole 
to be considered as a divergent or, in the alternative, as a sub- 
sidiary operation ; the wisdom of the attack by ships alone ; and 
the grounds upon which we entered upon, and the plan which 
governed, the larger military operations.* 

* The subject was investigated by the Dardanelles Commission, which issued 
two reports (Cd. 8490 and Cmd. 371). The findings of the Commission need not be 
regarded as final, but the reports include most of the material evidence. For the 
much-disputed tale of the Cabinet discussions, see also Sir G. Arthur's Life of Kitchener 
(1920), and Lord Fisher's Memories (1919). Among the mass of general literature 
Sir C. E. Callwell's The Dardanelles (1919), and H. W. Nevinson's The Dardanelles 
Campaign (1918), seem to be especially valuable. Sir Ian Hamilton has written 
the story from his own point of view in his Gallipoli Diary (1920), and Mr. John Mase- 
field's Gallipoli (1916) is the saga of a great feat of arms. 



The Cabinet of twenty-two members which in August was 
responsible for the conduct of the war speedily revealed itself 
as too large, cumbrous, and miscellaneous a body for the secret 
and efficient transaction of business. Accordingly, towards the 
end of November, a special committee was created from it under 
the name of the War Council, which could act without further 
reference. Various Ministers, such as vSir Edward Grey, Lord 
Crewe, and Mr. Lloyd George, attended occasionally, but the 
regular members were the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the 
Admiralty, and the Secretary for War, who were assisted by their 
naval and military advisers. Of the three the strongest person- 
ality was Lord Kitchener. The outbreak of war had dispersed 
the old General Staff overseas, and Kitchener was virtually his 
own General Staff, and to a large extent Commander-in-Chief as 
well as War Secretary. His great experience, his unique public 
prestige, and the consciousness that he represented in his person 
the whole military authority of Britain made it hard for his col- 
leagues to differ from his views. This difficulty was increased 
by the fact that he was unfamiliar with councils, had no facility 
in debate or in self-expression, and was apt to issue his conclusions 
as verdicts without argument or apologies. After him the First 
Lord was the most forceful figure, for Mr. Asquith's leisurely 
dialectic was ill suited to the rough business of war. Mr. Churchill 
was more than a distinguished Minister of the Crown ; he was an 
enthusiast in his department, and had as sound a knowledge of 
military science as most staff officers. His active mind was for ever 
exploring new roads to victory, and from him and from the First 
Sea Lord at his elbow was bound to come the initiative in ideas. 

As early as ist September he had suggested to Kitchener the 
plan of seizing the Dardanelles by means of a Greek army, and 
so admitting a British fleet to the Sea of Marmora. On 25th 
November he proposed to the War Council to strike at the Gallipoli 
peninsula as a feint, but Kitchener decided that the movement 
was premature. But the matter remained in the minds of the 
War Council, and during December we find Kitchener discussing 
with Sir John Maxwell, then commanding in Egypt, the pos- 
sibility of landing forces at Alexandretta in the Gulf of Iskan- 
derun, to strike at the communications of any Turkish invasion 
of Egypt. On January 2, 1915, a new complexion was given to 
things by an appeal for help from Russia, then struggling on the 


Bzura and in the Caucasus. Kitchener resolved that Russia's 
request must be met, and next day pledged himself to a demonstra- 
tion against the Turks, telling Mr. Churchill that he considered 
the Dardanelles the only likely plan. On the 2nd, too, Lord Fisher 
had also informed the First Lord that he thought that the attack 
on Turkey held the field, " but only if it is immediate." Mr. 
Churchill telegraphed to Vice-Admiral Carden on the 3rd asking 
if he considered that it was possible to force the Dardanelles by 
the use of ships alone, and received the answer that they might 
be forced " by extended operations with a large number of ships." 
As far back as 1906 the General Staff had reported on this very 
point and had come to an adverse decision, and Admiral Sir 
Henry Jackson, whom Mr. Churchill had asked for a memorandum, 
was no less discouraging. On the nth Vice-Admiral Carden 
telegraphed his plan in detail, and the Admiralty Staff which 
examined it were more than dubious about its merits. At a meet- 
ing of the War Council on the 13th Mr. Churchill explained the 
Carden scheme, and Kitchener declared that it was worth trying. 
The Council accordingly instructed the Admiralty to prepare for 
a naval expedition in February " to bombard and take the Gallipoli 
peninsula, with Constantinople as its objective." 

It is clear that the chief patron of the scheme was Mr, Churchill. 
His principal naval advisers were either hostile or half-hearted, and 
assented only on the understanding that in case of failure the attack 
could instantly be broken off. In the Council itself Lord Fisher 
and Sir Arthur Wilson kept silence, conceiving it to be their duty to 
answer questions when asked, but not to volunteer advice. But 
the former, though wavering sometimes between two opinions, was 
on the whole against the enterprise. He knew a good deal about 
the subject, having served under Hornby during the Russo-Turkish 
War when that admiral lay off Constantinople, and having, as 
First Sea Lord in 1904, fully investigated the whole problem of 
forcing the Dardanelles. The more he looked at Mr. Churchill's 
policy the less he liked it, and on the 25th he wrote to the Prime 
Minister stating his objections. After a private meeting between 
Mr. Asquith, Mr. Churchill, and Lord Fisher on the 28th, a War 
Council was held, in which the First Lord carried his colleagues 
with him. For a moment it seemed as if Lord Fisher would resign, 
but he was persuaded to remain, apparently because he thought 
that the naval attack, even if it failed, need not involve serious 
losses. But on the feasibility of the operation he was still uncon- 
vinced, and he had with him the best naval opinion. Unfor- 


tunately, the naval authorities, out of a scrupulous regard for 
etiquette, left on the minds of the War Council the impression that 
they were not hostile to the scheme so much upon its technical 
merits as because they would have preferred a different objective 
in a totally different region. That appears to have been the view 
of Mr. Asquith and Lord Kitchener ; it cannot have been Mr. 
Churchill's, who had precise knowledge of the technical naval 
objections but beheved that new developments in gunnery had 
nullified them, and was prepared to force his opinion against the 
experts. That day, the 28th of January, the decision to attack 
the Dardanelles by the fleet alone was finally ratified. 

At this point it will be well to pause and consider two points 
which are vital if we are to form a judgment on the enterprise — 
the relation of such a plan to the general strategy of the war, and 
the kind of problem which an unsupported naval attack involved. 

In the first place, it is necessary to be clear on the meaning of 
the terms " subsidiary " and " divergent " operations. The first 
is properly a term of praise ; the second of blame. Every great 
campaign must produce one or more subsidiary operations. A 
blow may be necessary at the enemy's line of supply, or a halting 
neutral may require to have his mind made up for him, or some 
piece of enemy property, strategically valuable, deserves to be 
gathered in. Such operations are, strictly speaking, part of the 
main campaign, and success in them directly subserves the main 
object of the war. A " divergent " operation, on the contrary, has 
no relation to the main effort, except that it is directed against 
the same enemy. Success in it is compatible with utter failure in 
the chief campaign, and does not necessarily bring the issue one 
step nearer. It usually involves some wasting of the force avail- 
able for the main theatre, and it means a certain dissipation of 
the energy and brain-power of the high commands. The history 
of Britain is strewn with the wrecks of divergent operations, and 
a few instances may make their meaning clear. In the years 
1793-4, when it was our business to scotch the Revolutionary 
Government of France by striking at its head, we set out on adven- 
tures in every quarter of the globe. We took six West Indian 
islands — strategically as important as the North Pole ; we landed 
in Haiti ; we sent a force under the Duke of York to the Nether- 
lands ; we held Toulon as long as we could ; we seized Corsica ; 
we sent an expedition to La Vendue. The consequence was that 
we succeeded nowhere, and the Revolutionary Government at 


the end of that time was stronger than ever. Next year, 1795, 
while things were going badly for us on other battle-grounds, we 
chose to send an expedition to Cape Town, to attack Demerara, 
and to make a disastrous landing on an island in Quiberon Bay. 
And so we continued to indulge our passion for outlandish geog- 
raphy, while France grew in strength and the star of Napoleon rose 
above the horizon. Take the year 1807. We sent a force under 
Sir Home Popham to the Cape, which proceeded to South America, 
took Buenos Aires, and presently lost it. We projected an expe- 
dition to Valparaiso, and another against Mexico. These ventures, 
as a matter of fact, were utter failures ; but had they been suc- 
cessful they would have in no way helped the main purpose of 
the war. For in Europe Napoleon was moving from strength to 
strength. Eighteen hundred and seven was the year of Friedland 
and of the Treaty of Tilsit. 

Let us attempt to set down the principles which govern legiti- 
mate subsidiary operations, and separate them from the illegiti- 
mate divergent type. There is first the question of locality. Ob- 
viously it is not necessary that the minor campaign should be 
fought in the same area as the major. Wellington wore down the 
strength of the French in the Peninsula, though the main theatre 
of war, the place where the big stake lay, was central Europe. In 
the American Civil War the eyes of the world were fixed on the 
lines of the Potomac, but the real centre of gravity was Vicksburg 
and the operations on the Mississippi. Nor, again, is it necessary 
that even the major campaign should be fought in or adjoining 
the enemy's home country. In the Seven Years' War France was 
conquered at Plassey and at Quebec, because it was for an over- 
seas empire, for the domination of India and America, that the 
combatants fought. The locality of a subsidiary operation matters 
nothing, provided — and this is the first principle — the operation 
directly subserves the main object of the war. In other words, 
the operation, if successful, must be profitable. In the second 
place, there must be a reasonable chance of success. A subsidiary 
operation, thoroughly justified by general strategy, may be a 
blunder if it is undertaken with forces too weak to surmount the 
difficulties. If the force is not strong enough to effect the object, 
then, however desirable the object, the force would have been 
better left at home. Thirdly, any force used for the subsidiary 
operation must not seriously weaken the operations in the main 
theatre, unless the former operation is so vital that in itself it 
becomes the centre of gravity of the campaign. Waterloo was 


a battle which is rightly regarded as one of the decisive fights of 
the world, but the Allies at Waterloo won by a very narrow margin. 
At the time Wellington's seasoned veterans of the Peninsula were 
for the most part involved in the woods and swamps of the 
Canadian frontier. That was inevitable ; but had they been sent 
there as part of a strategic purpose with the European situation 
what it was on Napoleon's return from Elba, it would have 
exactly illustrated the danger we are discussing. In the present 
war it was clear from the start that Germany must be conquered in 
Europe, and that the main campaign must be that on the lines from 
the North Sea to the Alps, and from the Baltic to the Bukovina. 
Germany had set the battle plan, and her antagonists could not 
choose but accept the challenge. Any weakening of these lines 
so as to compromise their strength for the sake of a subsidiary 
operation was clearly inadvisable by all the principles of war. 

^^^lethe^ the Dardanelles expedition violated the second and 
the third of these canons will be discussed in due course. But 
the application of the first — the value of the objective sought, 
and its relation to the central purpose of the Allies — can be made 
clear by a few general considerations. What were the ends to be 
attained by the forcing of the Dardanelles ? 

The Sea of Marmora and the winding straits that link it with 
the .^gean and the Euxine form a water frontier of some two 
hundred miles between Asia and Europe. This meeting-place of 
the East and the West has been the source of some of the most 
momentous events in human history. The story begins in the 
twilight of legend. As the traveller approaches the Dardanelles 
from the south he sees on his right, in front of the Bithynian 
Olympus, the hill called Kag Dagh, which is that Mount Ida 
whence the gods watched the siege of Troy. In the plain between 
it and the sea flow Simois and Scamander, once choked with famous 
dead. There by the hill of Hissarlik stood " windy Ilium," The 
current of the Dardanelles made the Straits difficult for laden 
merchantmen, and it was the fashion to unload the ships at their 
mouth, tow them empty through the Straits, and carry the goods 
on pack horses across the plain of Troy. But Priam, King of 
Troy, exacted an unconscionable tribute from the harassed Greek 
traders, and the Trojan war was fought to abolish the impost. 
So, if we are to accept the speculations of modern scholars, it 
was not a woman's face that launched the thousand ships, but an 
early craving for tariff reform. Across the Dardanelles Leander 
swam to meet his mistress Hero, the priestess of Aphrodite. There 


at the Narrows, Xerxes, seeking to conquer Europe, transported 
his armies by a bridge of boats on their way to Thermopylag and 
Platasa ; and a century and a half later Alexander the Great 
led his troops by the same passage to the conquest of Asia. On 
its shores St. Paul heard the cry from Macedonia, " Come over 
and help us." At first Constantine would have built his capital 
there, but he preferred the Bosphorus, where stood the old Greek 
colony of Byzantium, for centuries the emporium of the Euxine 
commerce. The new city which rose around the Golden Horn 
became the ruling centre of the Roman Empire. The transference 
of authority was a stroke of genius, for while the West went down 
in ruins before the incursions of the barbarian, Byzantium pre- 
served for a thousand years the forms of Roman imperialism 
and the culture of the ancient world. The Dardanelles was de- 
signed by nature as a protection to the capital on the Bosphorus 
against any naval incursion from the south. But the Greek emperors 
of Byzantium, though they maintained formidable armies, seem 
to have neglected all questions of naval defence. In particular 
they made no serious attempts to fortify the approach from the 
iEgean. In the thirteenth century the Crusaders, forgetting the 
object of their expedition, and lured by the plunder of a rich cap- 
ital, found little difficulty in bringing the Venetian fleet to the 
Dardanelles, and placing a Flemish count on the throne of By- 
zantium. Had they cared to maintain their conquest, they might 
have erected a formidable barrier against the Turk. But this 
Latin Empire was short-lived, and the Greek monarchs who fol- 
lowed the Counts of Flanders had neither the energy nor the means 
to meet the danger that soon threatened them from Asia. In 
the space of a hundred years the Ottoman Turks, nomads from 
Central Asia, had made themselves masters of the Near East. 
They held the Asiatic shore of the Sea of Marmora, and Constanti- 
nople, weak and wealthy, was the inevitable object of their am- 
bition. In 1358 they crossed the Narrows of the Dardanelles, 
occupied Gallipoli, and made the rocky peninsula a base for their 
career of European conquest. Presently they had overrun the 
Balkan lands, and their capital was Adrianople. The territory of 
the Eastern Empire was now confined to a few hundred square mUes 
around the walls of the great city. The end came on May 29, 1453, 
when Mahommed II., the stern, black-bearded conqueror whose 
portrait hangs to-day in the Sultan's Treasure House, breached 
the walls of Constantinople and ended the reign of the Palaologi. 
The Turks were a martial people, with an eye for military needs. 

1915] DUCKWORTH. 9 

From the outset the Sultans of Constantinople realized that the 
defence of their capital and the existence of their empire depended 
upon their security against naval attack. Until the rise of the 
Russian power in comparatively modern times there was no danger 
from the Black Sea. But it was all important to bar the western 
entrance of the Sea of Marmora, and the Turks had no sooner 
occupied Gallipoli than they began to fortify the Dardanelles. 
The " Castles of Europe and Asia " were erected at the entrance, 
which to-day have been replaced by the forts of Sedd-el-Bahr and 
Kmn Kale. Higher up at the Narrows Sestos and Abydos were 
fortified — the " inner castles " of old descriptions. Besides these 
shore defences a fleet of galleys and sailing craft was always kept 
at Gallipoli on a war footing. In the year 400 the conspirator 
Gainas had led his Goths in rafts across the channel, and midway 
had been scattered by the Roman galleys. From that day till 
1654 no attempt was made, save by the Turks, against the passage. 
In the latter year the Norwegian Adelen, acting as an Admiral of 
Venice, fought and defeated a Turkish fleet at the mouth of the 
Dardanelles, and seized Tenedos; but the shore forts barred all 
further progress. The Turks seemed to have found the expedient 
which would make their capital secure. Nevertheless in 1807 the 
Straits were passed. A British admiral. Sir J. T. Duckworth, 
was sent by CoUingwood from Cadiz with a powerful squadron 
to detach the Sultan from the French aUiance. He had orders 
to demand the surrender of the Turkish fleet, and in case of refusal 
to bombard Constantinople. Duckworth's feat was remarkable, 
not because he encountered any effective resistance, but because 
of the risks he ran and the light which his experience casts upon 
all similar enterprises. It was no easy matter to convey a squadron 
of Une-of-battle ships and frigates under sail through the narrow 
winding waters and against the heavy currents of the Dardanelles. 
The " castles " at the entrance opened fire, as did the Narrows 
forts, but with Uttle effect. A show of resistance by a Turkish 
squadron at GallipoU ended in its prompt destruction by a detach- 
ment under Sir Sidney Smith. Duckworth anchored before Con- 
stantinople, and it seemed as if his mission were successful. But 
the French agent there, Sebastiani, induced the Sultan to prolong 
negotiations till heavy batteries had been erected on the sea front. 
Duckworth might have silenced these, but by this time he had 
begun to see the difficulties of his position. Warships that had run 
past the forts of the Dardanelles without subduing them and with- 
out leaving garrisons to secure the passage were in grave jeopardy. 


When their supplies of food, water, and ammunition were ex- 
hausted they could receive no more except by the grace of their 
enemies. It was this consideration that compelled Duckworth 
to retire before his mission was accomplished. He ran through 
the Dardanelles into the ^gean with the tide and the wind in his 
favour. The Turkish batteries opened fire — chiefly clumsy medi- 
aeval cannon throwing stone balls, and mounted on slides formed 
of parallel balks of timber. They could not be trained to right or 
left, but could fire only when a ship came opposite their muzzles. 
Yet even this primitive artillery was formidable : several of our 
ships were hit and badly damaged, and there was some loss of 
life. Duckworth's experience was such as to increase the reputa- 
tion of the Dardanelles defences. 

For a decade after 1820 all Europe was arrayed against Turkey, 
and between her and Russia there was constant bickering. Pres- 
ently the position changed, the Western Powers grew apprehensive 
of Russia's Mediterranean designs, and were more incUned to sup- 
port Turkey against her. It is unnecessary to enter into the details 
of the troubled diplomacy of these years, but we may note that 
in 1841, by a treaty signed by Russia, Britain, Prussia, Austria, 
and France, Turkey's right to keep the Dardanelles closed was 
made part of the public law of Europe.* No ship of war could 
pass the Straits without the express permission of the Sultan, and 
all merchantmen were to be examined at the entrance and show 
their papers. When the Crimean War broke out, the alliance of 
the Sultan was the necessary prelude to the passing of the Straits 
by the British and French fleets. The first step taken was the 
fortification of the Isthmus of Bulair, on the advice of Sir John 
Burgoyne, and its occupation by the Allied troops. The isthmus, a 
neck of land less than three miles wide between the Gulf of Saros 
and the Sea of Marmora, connects the Gallipoli peninsula with the 
mainland of Thrace. French and English engineers surveyed the 
ground and constructed a line of entrenchments from sea to sea. 
At that time there was much ill-informed criticism of these steps, 
and some impatience that lines should be fortified so far from the 
theatre of war. But the policy was wholly right. All operations on 
the Black Sea shores or on the Danube must depend upon a secure 
line of communications through the Dardanelles, and the Darda- 
nelles could not be secure unless the GallipoU peninsula were held. 

* In 1871, when Russia denounced the clauses of the Treaty of Paris which forbade 
her to maintain a fleet in the Black Sea, a further convention was signed in London, 
confirming the treaty of 1841 and extending its provisions to the Bosphorus. 

1915] HORNBY. II 

Since Duckworth's day the Straits had only once been passed, 
and again by a British admiral. When in 1877, during the Russo- 
Turkish War, the Russian advance from the Danube seemed to 
imperil Constantinople, our Mediterranean Fleet was sent to Besika 
Bay, and the Admiralty discussed with its commander, Sir Geoffrey 
Phipps Hornby, how it should be used to prevent a hostile occupa- 
tion of the Turkish capital. In those days it was a first principle 
of our foreign pohcy that Russia should not have Constantinople. 
The British Cabinet hesitated, at times inclining to a direct support 
of the Turks, at others contemplating the possibility of having to 
meet the united forces of a victorious Russia and a subservient 
Turkey. It was anticipated that if our fleet attempted the Darda- 
nelles, Turkey might oppose it, or the Russians be in possession of 
the northern shore. Hornby reported that, although the defences 
of the Straits had been greatly improved, he did not think the 
batteries would prevent him reaching the Sea of Marmora. But in a 
dispatch dated August 10, 1877, ^^ pointed out that even after the 
Dardanelles were passed the situation of our fleet would be critical. 
He felt so strongly on the subject that he urged the Government 
to send a British force to occupy the Bulair lines, which the Turks 
were then putting into a state of defence. This, however, would 
have committed the Government to a definite policy, and nothing 
was done. In January 1878, when the Russians arrived before 
Constantinople, Hornby was directed to enter! the Straits, and had 
actually brought up his fleet to the entrance when he was stopped 
by a telegram from the Admiralty. On 12th February he was 
ordered to pass the Straits without waiting for the Sultan's 
permit, and " if fired upon and his ships struck, to return the fire, 
but not to wait to silence the forts." As it happened, he passed 
through without fighting, and anchored in the Sea of Marmora. 
There he spent some anxious days. He did not trust the Turkish 
commandant at Bulair, and expected at any moment to hear that 
the Russians had seized the lines there and cut off his squadron 
from supplies by getting command of the Dardanelles defences. 
A rupture with Russia, however, was avoided, and Hornby's 
naval demonstration undoubtedly strengthened the hands of the 
British Government in the negotiations which ended with the 
Treaty of Berlin. 

The history of the Dardanelles has been thus fully sketched 
because, without some knowledge of it, it is not easy to under- 
stand the importance of the Straits to Turkey. Against a naval 
Power like Britain or France they were the last defence of the 


capital, and that capital, more than any other great city of the 
world, was the palladium of the Power which had its seat there. 
It was almost all that was left to the race of Osman of their once 
splendid European possessions. It had been the base for those 
proud expeditions against Vienna and the Hungarian plains when 
Turkey was still a conquering Power. It had been the prize for 
which her neighbours had lusted, and which she had still retained 
against all rivals. It was, in a real sense, the sign visible of 
Turkey's existence as a sovereign state. If Constantinople fell 
Turkey would fall, and the doom of the capital was sealed so 
soon as the Allied battleships, with their communications secure 
behind them, entered the Sea of Marmora. 

The strategic importance of the forcing of the Dardanelles in 
a war with Turkey was therefore clear beyond all doubt. But in 
how far would the fall of Constantinople influence the decision 
of the main European conflict ? In the first place, it would to 
some extent simplify Russia's problem, and release troops for 
Poland and Galicia. There was the possibility that a mere threat 
to the capital might lead to a revolution which would overthrow 
the shaky edifice of Enver's rule. The bulk of the Turkish people 
did not share the passion for Germany felt by the Committee of 
Union and Progress, and advices from Constantinople during those 
days seemed to point to the imminence of a rising which would 
make a clean sweep of the Young Turk party, and restore the 
Sultan to his old place at the side of France and Britain. Again, 
the opening of the passage between the Black Sea and the ^gean 
would give Russia the means for exporting her accumulated wheat 
supphes. The lack of these was increasing the cost of bread in 
Western Europe, and the restriction of Russian exports had made 
the rate of exchange set violently against her, so that she was 
paying in some cases thirty times the normal price for her foreign 
purchases. She also stood in sore need of a channel for the 
entrance of war munitions. Archangel had been closed since 
January, the trans-Siberian line was a costly and circuitous route 
for all but her imports from Japan, while entries by Norway and 
Sweden were at the best precarious. But the main strategic 
value of the Dardanelles plan lay in its effect upon hesitating 
neutrals. Italy at the moment was still in the valley of indecision, 
and the downfall of Turkey and its influence upon the Balkan 
States would impel her to action. Turkey's defeat would have 
an effect upon the Balkan position like the addition of a new 
chemical to a compound — it would leave none of the constituents 


unaltered. Greece, Rumania, and Bulgaria had all of them 
national interests and purposes which compelled them to keep a 
watchful eye on each other, and which made it difficult for any one 
of them to move without its neighbour. Bulgaria, who had borne 
the heavy end of the Turkish campaign, had lost the prize of 
victory. Three compacts had been violated to her hurt, and she 
was deeply distrustful of all the Great Powers, and especially of 
Russia. German financiers had befriended her in 1913, when 
France and Britain had stood aside, and her Stambolovists had 
always looked to Austria as their ally. A secret treaty with 
Austria had indeed been concluded a month after the outbreak of 
the war. With Greece and Serbia — especially with the latter — 
she had a bitter quarrel over the delimitation of territory after 
the Balkan wars, and she had little cause to forget Rumania's 
intervention. At the same time her geographical position made 
it highly perilous for her to join the Teutonic League, unless its 
victory were assured. Her attitude was therefore a circumspect 
neutrality ; but the first Allied guns that spoke in the Sea of 
Marmora would compel her to a decision. With Bulgaria decided, 
Greece and Rumania would follow suit. Rumania was faced 
with a complex situation from which she was slowly disentangling 
herself under the pressure of events. If her southern frontiers 
were safe it seemed likely that she would make her choice, and 
her geographical situation and her well-equipped army of nearly 
half a million would make her an invaluable ally. Greece in 
such circumstances could not stand apart. With Turkey out of 
action and the Balkans united on the Allies' side, the most critical 
part of the main campaign — the long front of Russia — would be 
greatly eased. When the Italian guns sounded on the Isonzo 
and the Rumanian force took the Austrian right wing in flank, 
the balance against Russian arms might be redressed. 

In a speech made later in the year Mr. Churchill defined the 
prize at which he aimed : " Beyond those four mUes of ridge and 
scrub on which our soldiers, our French comrades, our gallant 
Australian and New Zealand fellow-subjects are now battling, 
lie the downfall of a hostile empire, the destruction of an enemy's 
fleet and army, the fall of a world-famous capital, and probably 
the accession of powerful allies. The struggle will be heavy, 
the risks numerous, the losses cruel ; but victory, when it comes, 
will make amends for all. There never was a great subsidiary 
operation of war in which a more complete harmony of strategic, 
political, and economic advantages has combined, or which stood 


in truer relation to the main decision which is in the central 
theatre. Through the Narrows of the Dardanelles and across 
the ridges of the Gallipoli peninsula lie some of the shortest paths 
to a triumphant peace." The language may have been over- 
coloured, but substantially the claim was just. A Dardanelles 
expedition directly subserved the main object of the war. An 
attack by ships alone, an attack that in case of failure could be 
promptly suspended, would not, it may fairly be argued, have weak- 
ened the Allies' strength in the main theatre, though Kitchener 
may well have reflected that in the East it was not wise for Britain 
to put her hand to the plough and then turn back. It remains 
to consider whether the enterprise fulfilled the third of the con- 
ditions of a wise subsidiary operation : whether the plan gave 
a reasonable chance of success. 

A naval attack on the Dardanelles without the co-operation 
of a military force would be a battle of ships against forts, and it 
had long been widely held by experts that in such a contest the 
advantage would lie with the forts. What were the grounds and 
the historical warrant of this opinion ? There is a letter of Nel- 
son's, written on July 29, 1794, at the time when we were driving 
the French from Corsica and preparing to reduce the forts of 
Calvi. It had been suggested that the attack should be made 
from the sea, but Nelson demurred. He wrote to Lord Hood : 
" I took the liberty of observing that the business of lajdng wood 
before walls was much altered of late, and even if they had no 
hot shot, which I believed they had, that the quantity of powder 
and shot which would be fired away on such an attack could be 
much better directed from a battery on shore." Armour-clads 
replaced wooden walls, and high-explosive shells superseded red- 
hot shot, but it stni remained true that shore batteries were a 
more effective weapon of assault against fortifications than even 
the heaviest guns mounted in the most powerful ships. For a 
little there was some disposition to believe that improvements in 
naval artillery and the increase of armoured protection might 
turn the scale in favour of the ships. But modem progress in 
armaments was as advantageous to the fort as to the ship, and one 
of the highest living authorities * had argued that, if anything, the 
advantage of the fort had increased since Nelson's day. He had 
even suggested what at first seemed a startling paradox, that the 
old wooden battleship, with its tiers of smooth-bore guns, could 
• Lord Sydenham in his standard work on Fortification. 


at close range pour into a land battery a more formidable fire, 
with a better chance of scoring effective hits, than the modern 
battleship with its few heavy guns at long range, even though 
these were weapons of the highest precision, fitted with telescopic 
sights, and directed by the aid of range-finders and observers. 

In former times, though the shore battery generally beat the 
ship, there were exceptional cases when the victory lay with the 
latter. Such were Exmouth's attack on Algiers in 1816, and 
the exploit at Acre in 1840. But neither was a true test. The 
Algerian and Egyptian gunners not only shot badly, but allowed 
the hostile fleet to come up and anchor at close quarters with- 
out opening fire. It was the memory of these successes which 
led the Allied admirals in the Crimean War to believe that 
in the same way they could silence the forts on the sea front at 
Sebastopol. The attempt, made on October 17, 1854, ended dis- 
astrously, with six ships out of action and more than 500 men 
killed and wounded. A year later, on the anniversary of the 
Sebastopol bombardment, the forts of Kinbum were silenced by a 
naval attack. Napoleon the Third's three floating batteries, the 
Devastation, Lave, and Tonnant, were engaged in the operations 
— the first of ironclads, and the pioneers of all modem armoured 
fleets. This event produced a new theory, and for some time it 
was supposed that the coming of the armoured ship had changed 
the conditions of the problem. But all subsequent experience 
belied this view. In the American Civil War the repeated naval 
assaults on Charleston ended in failure. It is true that in the 
attack on New Orleans Admiral Farragut succeeded in passing the 
forts that defended the narrow waterway of the Mississippi, but 
he did not attempt to silence them. He steamed past them, and 
then had the city at his mercy on its unprotected flank. His 
feat — not an attack on forts, but an evasion of them — would have 
been impossible had the river channel been protected by a modem 
mine-field. The most significant incident, perhaps, was our 
bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. At first sight it would 
seem to prove that a fleet could in a few hours and with trifling 
losses master forts on land. But the careful study of the bombard- 
ment which was made by an American Commission with the 
assistance of British naval officers, put the matter in a very 
different light. Our squadron was the most powerful which 
up to that date had ever operated against forts. One of the 
ships, the old Inflexible, was the Dreadnought of her day. 
We expended a great quantity of ammunition — about 1,740 


heavy projectiles, 7-inch and upwards, including 88 rounds from 
the guns of the Inflexible, together with 1,400 smaller shells, 
and about 33,500 bullets from machine guns and rifles. The 
conditions were perfect — close range, calm weather, no mines, 
and highly incompetent opponents. Yet it was proved that not 
more than three of the Egyptian guns were directly put out of 
action by our fire. The whole defence system was bad. Most of 
the pieces were mounted en barbette over a low parapet that gave 
hardly any cover to the gunners. The guns at one fort were 
placed in front of a barrack wall, which stopped and exploded 
scores of shells that otherwise would have flown harmlessly over- 
head. What would have happened under better conditions was 
shown by the fact that a small battery of disappearing guns, 
constructed some years before by an American officer, Colonel 
ChaUle-Long, was never silenced, and was firing the day after 
the bombardment. Had not the forts surrendered, twenty-eight 
guns could have opened fire next day, when our fleet was almost 
bankrupt of ammunition. The natural deduction from the Alex- 
andria bombardment was that a naval attack on modern forts, 
well armed and adequately manned, would be a highly critical 
operation, would most probably end in failure, and could only 
succeed at the cost of serious loss. 

This conclusion was so generally accepted that during the 
Spanish-American War the United States Navy Department 
repeatedly warned the admirals that battleships and heavy cruisers 
must not be risked in close-range action with forts. All that the 
navy ventured upon was a long-range bombardment of the Spanish 
coast fortifications, attacks that were httle more than demonstra- 
tions, for no serious attempt was made to silence the land batteries. 
A few guns mounted on Socapa Point at Santiago, and very badly 
served, were sufficient to prevent Admiral Sampson from risking 
a close attack. It was the same in the Russo-Japanese War. 
Admiral Togo never risked his battleships and cruisers in a close 
attack on the sea batteries of Port Arthur. There were occasional 
long-range bombardments with no result, and the reduction of the 
fortress was due to the attack by land. Similarly Tsing-tau in 
the present war fell not to Admiral Kato's squadron, but to General 
Kamio's army. 

It might be said, however, that though ships were not likely 
to silence forts, forts could not prevent ships running past them. 
The argument was not relevant to the case of the Dardanelles, 
where in the long run not only a passage, but the occupation of 


the passage, was necessary, as Hornby found in 1878. But in any 
case it was unsound, for the development of submarine mines and 
torpedo warfare had made it all but impossible to evade the fort. 
A mine-field in a channel, protected by a few well-mounted guns, 
with searchlights and quick-firers to prevent mine-sweeping by 
night, was for a fleet a practically impassable barrier. The mine- 
field could not be disposed of until the fort had been destroyed. 

Such being the accepted doctrine among naval and military 
students of the question, it may well be asked why the scheme of 
forcing the Dardanelles by a naval attack alone was ever accepted 
by the British Government. It was known that very high naval 
authority was opposed to it ; it was equally true that certain 
naval authorities approved of it, and that Mr. Churchill was its 
impassioned advocate. On what grounds? There was an idea 
abroad that new conditions had been introduced into the problem, 
and there was the usual tendency to exaggerate the effect of a new 
weapon. The Dreadnought, the long-range gun, the submarine, 
had each been hailed as about to revolutionize warfare. It was 
presumed that the huge high-explosive shells of the modern war- 
ship would make land batteries untenable, not by silencing their 
guns one by one, but by acting like flying mines, the explosion 
of which would shatter the defences and produce a panic among 
the gunners. Once the forts were thus temporarily overcome, 
landing parties would complete the task, the mine-fields would be 
cleared, and the passage be won. It was also anticipated that 
with the long range of the newest naval guns the forts could be 
bombarded from a distance at which their own armament would 
be ineffective. The notion was that the outer forts at the entrance 
to the Straits could be silenced by the converging fire of a number 
of ships from the open sea, while the attack on the inner forts 
would be carried on by individual fire from ships in the Gulf of 
Saros, which, with airplanes to direct them, would send their 
shells over the hills of the Gallipoli peninsula. These two factors 
— aerial reconnaissance and the increased range of naval guns 
— were believed to have changed the whole conditions of the 

It would be unfair to say that there was no colour for this 
forecast. But it erred in strangely neglecting and underestimating 
other factors in the situation, and in unduly simplifying the prob- 
lem. It was not a mere question of a duel between the guns of 
the fleet and those of the permanent fortifications. Had it been, 
there would have been much to be said for the optimistic view. 


Bui; the defences of the Dardanelles had been organized on a 
system which took the fullest advantage of natural features, and 
was based on past experience and a scientific knowledge of modern 
warfare. It was no improvised Turkish expedient, but the work 
of the German General Staff. It contemplated an attack, not 
only by a fleet, but by a large military force acting in conjunction. 
When, therefore, the Allies, to the surprise of their enemies, de- 
cided upon a mere naval attack, the problem of the defence was 
immensely simphfied. 

To appreciate the difficulties of the attack we must consider 
briefly the topography of the Straits. Their northern shore is 
formed by the peninsula of Gallipoli, a tongue of land some fifty 
miles long, which varies in width from twelve to two or three 
miles. The country is a mass of rocky ridges rising to a height 
of over 700 feet from the sea. The hills are so steep and sharply 
cut that to reach their tops is in many places a matter of sheer 
climbing. There was little cultivation ; there were few villages, and 
no properly engineered roads. Most of the land was covered with a 
dense scrub from three to six feet high, with stunted forests in the 
hollows. Communications were so bad that the usual way from 
village to village was not by land, but by boat along the inner or 
outer coast. At the head of the Dardanelles, on the European side, 
lay the town and harbour of GallipoH, the headquarters of the naval 
defence of the Straits. The southern shore is also hilly. Near the 
entrance on the Asiatic side there is the flat and marshy plain of 
Troy, which is bounded on the east by hills running to 3,000 feet. 
On both sides the high ground overhangs the sea passage, and on 
the north side for about twelve miles the hills form a hue of cliffs, 
with narrow half-moons of beach at the base, and here and there 
a stream making a gully in the rampart. As everywhere in the 
Mediterranean, there is practically no tide, but a strong current, 
rising to four knots, sets continuously down the Straits from the 
Sea of Marmora. North-easterly winds are prevalent, and before 
the days of steam these often closed the passage for weeks at a 
time to ingoing traffic. 

There were two groups of forts. The first was at the entrance — 
on the north side. Cape Helles and Sedd-el-Bahr, with one or two 
adjacent batteries ; on the opposite shore, Kum Kale and Orkanieh. 
None of these forts were heavily armed, for it was recognized that 
in any case they would be at a disadvantage against a long-range 
attack from a fleet in the open sea. The entrance forts were merely 
the outposts of the real defence. The second group was at the 

1915] THE MINEFIELD. 19 

Narrows. Fourteen miles from the mouth the Straits close in 
to a width of about three-quarters of a mile. Up to this point 
their general course has been from south-west to north-east, but 
now the channel makes a short turn directly northward before 
resuming its original direction. There is thus within a distance 
of a few miles a sharp double bend, and guns placed in position at 
the water's edge could cross their fire against ships ascending the 
Straits, which would also be brought under end-on fire from guns 
at the top of the Narrows. At the entrance to the Narrows were 
the forts of Chanak, or Sultanieh Kalessi, on the Asiatic side, 
and Kilid Bahr, on the European. The slopes above the latter 
were studded with batteries, some commanding the approach to 
the Narrows, others commanding the seaway towards Gallipoli. 
Along both sides, but especially between Chanak and Nagara, the 
low ground was lined with batteries. It was possible to attack 
the forts at the entrance to the Narrows at fairly long range from 
the wider channel below the bend, but there was no room to bring 
any large number of ships into action at the same time. Once 
the entrance was passed all fighting must be at close range. 

But the strength of the defence did not depend only on the 
batteries. An attacking fleet had other weapons to face besides 
the guns. There was first the obstruction of the channel by sub- 
marine mines. To get rid of these by sweeping was nearly im- 
possible, for the light vessels, which alone could be employed, had 
to face not only the fire of the forts but that of mobile guns on 
the higher ground. Again, the descending current could be used 
to send down drift-mines upon the attacking ships. The artil- 
lery defence was further supplemented by howitzer batteries on 
the heights, difficult to locate, easy to move if located, and there- 
fore almost impossible to silence. It was clear that a fleet en- 
deavouring to force a channel thus defended was at the gravest 
disadvantage. There was only one way to complete success — the 
co-operation of a land army. By that means there was a chance 
of gaining possession of the heights behind the forts, attacking them 
in reverse, assisting the fleet to silence them, and then destroying 
the mine-field. Only a landing force, too, could deal with the 
mobile batteries. 

It is a simple matter to be wise after the event, and it is easy 
to judge a military problem pedantically, without allowing for 
the chances of war. Every operation is to some extent a gamble, 
even after all the unknown quantities seem to have been deter- 
mined. History showed a clear verdict on the handicap of a 


contest between ships and forts, without the assistance of a land 
army. History, too, showed that to pass the Dardanelles was 
a perilous achievement, unless the invader held the Gallipoli pen- 
insula, and so could secure his supplies and his retreat. But it 
is permissible sometimes to defy history and create new precedents 
— laudable if the attempt succeeds, excusable if it fails. The 
attack by ships alone cannot be fairly classed as a divergent opera- 
tion. Even if the weight of historical evidence was against success, 
there were new features in the problem not yet assessed, and on 
account of that unknown x and of the extreme value of the prize 
to be won even a prudent statesman might have felt justified in 
taking the odd chance. Again, the question of keeping open the 
communications behind was not so vital as in Hornby's day, for a 
fleet which passed the Dardanelles could pass the undefended Bos- 
phorus, join up with the Russians in the Black Sea, and find a new 
base at Odessa or Sebastopol. We must judge the mind of the 
originators by the knowledge which they possessed in January, not 
by the damning revelations of March. The chief responsibility for 
the naval attempt must rest with Mr. Churchill, and it seems fair 
to conclude that that attempt, since it seemed possible to make it 
with a strictly limited liability, was a legitimate venture of war. 


On November 3, 1914, an Anglo-French squadron had appeared 
at the Dardanelles and for ten minutes bombarded the forts at 
the entrance. The order had been given by the British Admiralty, 
and the purpose seems to have been to draw the fire of the forts 
and ascertain if they possessed long-range guns. Such premature 
action was a blunder, for it put the enemy on the alert, and during 
the three months that followed no further step was taken, though 
by the end of January 1915 the island of Tenedos had been seized, 
while Greece tolerated the use of Lemnos, where the great inlet 
of Mudros supplied a valuable base for naval operations. By the 
middle of February a considerable naval force, French and Bri- 
tish, had been concentrated at the entrance to the Straits. With 
two exceptions, the larger British ships were of the pre-Dread- 
nought class ; but there were also present the Inflexible, which had 
been in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, and the new super- 
Dreadnought, the Queen Elizabeth. The latter belonged to the 
most recent and most powerful class of battleship in the world. 
She was one of a group of five which, when war began, were still in 


the builders' hands, and in the ordinary course she would not have 
been commissioned till the late summer of 1915. Her main armament 
was made up of eight 15-inch guns, so mounted as to give a fire of 
four guns ahead or astern, and of the whole eight on either side. 

The operations against the outer forts began on Friday, 19th 
February. The ships engaged were the Inflexible, Agamemnon, 
Cornwallis, Vengeance, and Triumph — British ; and the Bouvet, 
Siiffren, and Gaulois — French ; covered by a flotilla of destroyers.* 
The naval force was under the command of Vice-Admiral Sack- 
ville Garden, and the French squadron was under Rear-Admiral 
Gu^pratte. Behind the battle-line lay the new mother-ship for 
seaplanes, the Ark Royal, named after Howard's flagship in the 
war with the Spanish Armada. From her aircraft were sent up 
to watch the fire of the battleships and signal the result. The 
action began at 8 a.m. It was clear that the forts at Cape Helles, 
on the point of the peninsula, and at Kum Kale, on the opposite 
shore, were frequently hit, and at times seemed to be smothered 
in bursting shells. It was harder to make out what was happening 
to the low earthworks of the batteries about Sedd-el-Bahr. All 
morning the bombardment continued ; it was like target prac- 
tice, for not a single shot was fired in reply. Admiral Garden 
came to the conclusion that the forts had been seriously damaged, 
and at a quarter to three in the afternoon gave the order to close 
in. WTiat followed showed that aerial observation of long-range 
lire was no easy matter. As the ships steamed nearer, the hitherto 
silent and apparently destroyed forts began to shoot. They made 
bad practice, for no one of the six ships that had shortened range 
was hit. By sundown the European batteries were quiet again, 
but Kum Kale was still firing, when, on account of the faihng light. 
Admiral Garden withdrew the fleet. 

For some days there was bad weather, but by the morning of 
Thursday, 25th February, it had sufficiently improved for opera- 
tions to be resumed. At 10 a.m. on that day the Queen Elizabeth, 
Agamemnon, and Irresistible,^ and the French battleship Gaulois, 
renewed the long-range bombardment of the outer forts. It was 
clear that these had not been seriously damaged by the action of 

• Inflexible — 17,250 tons, eight 12-inch guns, sixteen 4-inch guns ; Agamemnon — 
16,750 tons, four 12-inch guns, ten 9.2-inch guns ; Cornwallis — 14,000 tons, four 
12-inch guns, twelve 6-inch guns ; Vengeance — 12,950 tons, four 12-inch guns, twelve 
6-inch guns; Triumph — 11,980 tons, four lo-inch guns, fourteen 7.5-inch guns; 
Bouvet — 12,200 tons, two 12-inch guns, two 10.8-inch guns, eight 5.5-inch guns, 
eight 4-inch guns; Sujfren — 12,730 tons, four 12-inch guns, ten 6.4-inch guns; 
Gaulois — 11,260 tons, four 12-inch guns, ten 5.5-inch guns. 

t 15,000 tons, four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch guns. 


the 19th, and what injury had been done had been repaired in 
the interval. Once again the four forts, Sedd-el-Bahr, Cape Helles, 
Kum Kale, and Orkanieh, were attacked. Of these the first 
mounted six 10.2-inch guns, the second two 9.2-inch, the third 
four 10.2-inch and two 5.9-inch, and the fourth two 9.2-inch. 
Against the sixteen heavy guns of the forts the four ships 
brought into action twenty pieces heavier than anything mounted 
on the land, including the 15-inch guns of the Queen Elizabeth, 
the most powerful weapon ever used in naval war. The forts 
were thus greatly outmatched, and the long range of the Queen 
Elizabeth's guns enabled her to come into the fight at a distance 
where nothing from the land could possibly touch her. In an 
hour and a half the Queen Elizabeth and the Agamemnon had 
silenced the Cape Helles guns, but not before these had hit the 
latter ship, a shell fired at a range of six miles bursting on board 
her, with a loss of three men killed and five wounded. This was 
the only casualty suffered during the first stage of the bombard- 
ment. At 11.30 a.m. the Vengeance and Cornwallis came into 
action, and, running into close range, silenced the lighter armament 
of the Cape Helles battery. The attack on the Asiatic forts was at 
the same time reinforced by two of the French ships, the Suffren and 
the Charlemagne, which poured in a heavy fire at a range of only 
2,000 yards. Early in the afternoon the Triumph and the Albion * 
attacked Sedd-el-Bahr at close range. It said much for the courage 
and discipline of the Turkish artillerymen that, though they faced 
overwhelming odds, their last gun was not silenced till after 5 p.m. 
Little daylight remained, but, covered by the battleships and 
destroyers, a number of North Sea trawlers at once set to work 
to sweep for mines in the entrance. The work was resumed next 
morning at sunrise, and the mine-field was cleared for a distance 
of four miles up the Straits. Then the Albion, Vengeance, and 
Majestic f steamed in between the headlands, and opened a long- 
range fire on Fort Dardanos, a work on the Asiatic side some 
distance below the Narrows. It was not heavily armed, its best 
guns being four 5.9 Krupps. As the battleships opened fire, a 
reply came not only from Dardanos but from several unlocated 
batteries at various points along the shore. The Turkish fire, 
however, did little harm, and we were able to attack the rear of 
the entrance forts and drive off several bodies of Turkish troops. 

• 12,950 tons, four 12-inch guns, twelve 6-inch. 

t The oldest battleship type in the Navy; 14,900 tons, four 12-inch guns, twelve 


One party near Kum Kale was driven across the bridge near the 
mouth of the river Mendere (the ancient Simois), and the bridge 
itself destroyed by shell fire. We believed that by this time the 
Turks had ever3Awhere been forced to abandon the defences at 
the entrance, and landing parties of Royal Marines were sent 
ashore with explosives to complete the destruction of the guns in 
the forts. This they successfully accomplished, but near Kum 
Kale they encountered a detachment of the enemy, and, after a 
hot skirmish, had to fall back to their boats with a few casualties. 
On such slender basis the Turkish bulletins built up a report of 
landing parties everywhere repulsed with heavy loss. At this 
date it is clear that the Turks had nothing in the way of defences 
on the Gallipoli peninsula, apart from the shore forts. 

The result of the day's operations was that we had cleared 
the entrance to the Straits. This was the easiest part of the prob- 
lem, and only the beginning of the formidable task assigned to 
the Allied fleets. The real defence of the Dardanelles — the forts 
at the Narrows — had not been touched. Nevertheless, with that 
misleading optimism which has done so much to paralyze national 
effort, the press of France and Britain wrote as if the fall of the 
outer forts had decided the fate of Constantinople. In that city 
at the moment there was undoubtedly something of a panic among 
civilians, but the German and Turkish Staffs were in the best of 
spirits. They were greatly comforted by the time it had taken 
the powerful Allied fleet to destroy the outer forts, and they be- 
lieved that the inner forts were impregnable. There long-range 
attacks would be impossible ; no large number of ships could be 
brought simultaneously into action, and drifting mines and tor- 
pedoes could be used to supplement the artillery defence. Enver, 
not usually partial to the truth, was for once in a way correct when 
he told a correspondent : " The real defence of the Straits is yet 
to come. That lies where the difficult waterway deprives ships 
of their power to manoeuvre freely, and obliges them to move in 
a narrow defile commanded by artillery and mines." 

For a few days there were strong northerly winds, but in spite 
of the rough weather the mine-sweepers continued their work 
below the Narrows. On Thursday, 4th March, the battleships 
were again in action. Some attacked the forts inside the Straits, 
Dardanos and Soghandere, and a French cruiser in the Gulf of 
Saros demolished a look-out station at Cape Gaba Tepe. Among 
the ships engaged were the Ocean and the Lord Nelson* A land- 
♦ A sister ship of the Agamemnon — 16,500 tons, four 12-inch guns, ten 9.2-inch. 


ing party of Royal Marines near Kum Kale were driven back 
to their boats by a superior Turkish force with the relatively large 
loss of 22 killed, 22 wounded, and 3 missing. On 5th March there 
was a demonstration against Smyrna, a British and French de- 
tachment, under Vice-Admiral Peirse, bombarding the outer forts. 
The attack was not pushed, and was only intended to induce 
Enver to keep a considerable force in that neighbourhood. 

On 6th March the weather was again fine, with a smooth sea, 
and a preliminary attempt was made on the Narrows forts. On 
the preceding day some of the ships had entered the Straits and 
drawn the fire of the forts at Kilid Bahr. There was an explosion 
in one of them, and after that it ceased firing. On the morning 
of the 6th the Vengeance, Albion, Majestic, Prince George,* and 
Suffren steamed into the Straits and attacked the forts on both 
sides just below the Narrows. The fire was chiefly directed against 
Dardanos on the Asiatic, and Soghandere on the European shore 
— works which may be regarded as the outposts of the main 
Narrows defence. The attacking ships were struck repeatedly by 
shells, but no serious damage was done, and there was no loss of 
life. This attack from inside the Straits was, however, a second- 
ary operation. The main attack, from which great results were 
expected, was made by the Queen Elizabeth, Agamemnon, and 
Ocean from the Gulf of Saros, on the outer side of the Gallipoli 
peninsula. Lying off the point of Gaba Tepe, they sent their 
shells over the intervening hills, with airplanes directing their 
fire. Their target was two of the forts at Chanak, on the Asiatic 
side of the Narrows, about twelve miles off. These forts had a 
very heavy armament, including 14-inch guns, and it was hoped 
to destroy them by indirect fire, to which they had no means of 
replying. The Turks replied from various points on the heights 
of the peninsula with well-concealed howitzers and field guns, 
and three shells struck the Queen Elizabeth. Next day, 7th March, 
the attack was renewed. The Agamemnon and Lord Nelson, 
firing at a range of from 12,000 to 14,000 yards, supported by 
four French battleships, the Bouvet, Charlemagne, Gaulois, and 
Suffren, attacked from inside the Straits and engaged the forts 
on both sides of the Narrows. Chanak, which the Queen Elizabeth 
had been trying to demolish the day before, brought its heavy 
guns into action. The Gaulois, Agamemnon, and Lord Nelson 
were hit several times, but we believed that we had put the forts 
below Chanak and Kilid Bahr out of action. Subsequent experi- 

• A sister ship of the Majestic. 

1915] THE LAST EFFORT. 25 

ence showed that it was a difficult matter permanently to silence 
forts. Under the heavy fire of the ships it was hard to keep the 
guns constantl}' in action, not so much on account of any serious 
damage, but because the batteries were flooded with stifling vapours 
from the shells, and it was necessary to withdraw the men until the 
air cleared. Further, the defenders had been ordered to economize 
ammunition, and to reserve their fire for the closer attack which they 
believed would follow. The fact, therefore, that a fort ceased firing 
was no proof that it had been really silenced. Again and again 
during these operations we heard of forts being silenced, which next 
day or a few days after could bring most of their guns into action. 
The following week saw nothing but minor operations. On 
the loth an attempt was made to shell the Bulair defences at long 
range, and the British warships shelled some new batteries of 
light guns which the Turks had established near Morto Bay, on 
the European side of the entrance to the Straits. The Turkish 
Government sent out a report that the Allied fleets had been 
unsuccessfully bombarding the defences at Sedd-el-Bahr and Kum 
Kale. The Allied press treated this as an impudent fiction, and 
pointed out that the forts there had been destroyed many days 
before. But the Turkish communique told the truth. We had 
destroj^ed the forts, but we had not occupied the ground on both 
sides of the entrance. The Turks had accordingly entrenched 
themselves strongly near the ruins and mounted guns, and these 
we attacked on loth and nth March. At that time, misled by 
the optimism of the newspapers, the ordinary man in France and 
Britain counted with certainty on the speedy news that our fleet 
was steaming through the Sea of Marmora on the way to Con- 
stantinople. When tidings came that the light cruiser Amethyst 
had on 15th March made a dash into the Narrows, he beheved 
that the Turkish defence had collapsed. The Amethyst's enter- 
prise was part of a mine-sweeping expedition, and also a daring 
reconnaissance in which the little ship drew the fire of the upper 
forts. She got but a short way, and lost heavily in the attempt. 
But her exploit, magnified through Greek channels, made the world 
beheve that the Narrows defences had been seriously damaged, 
and that the time was ripe for a determined effort to force a 
passage. The combined fleet had now grown to a formidable 
strength, and included a Russian cruiser, the Askold, which 
appeared on 3rd March. Vice-Admiral Garden had been com- 
pelled by ill-health to relinquish the command, and Vice-Admiral 
John Michael de Robeck succeeded him. 


The great effort was made on Thursday, i8th March. It was 
a bright, clear day, with a Hght wind and a calm sea. At a quarter 
to eleven in the forenoon, the Agamemnon, Lord Nelson, Queen 
Elizabeth, Inflexible, Triumph, and Prince George steamed up the 
Straits towards the Narrows. The first four ships engaged the 
forts of Chanak and the battery on the point opposite, while the 
Triumph and Prince George kept the batteries lower down occupied 
by firing at Soghandere, Dardanos, and Kephez Point. After 
the bombardment had lasted for an hour and a half, during which 
the ships were fired upon not only by the forts but by howitzers 
and field guns on the heights, the French squadron, Bouvet, Charle- 
magne, Gaulois, and Suffren, came into action, steaming in to 
attack the forts at short range. Under the combined fire of the 
ten ships the forts once more ceased firing. A third squadron 
then entered the Straits to push the attack further. This was 
made up of six British battleships, the Albion, Irresistible, Majestic, 
Ocean, Swiftsure,* and Vengeance. As they steered towards 
Chanak the four French ships were withdrawn in order to make 
room for them in the narrow waters. But in the process of this 
change all the forts suddenly began to fire again, which showed 
that none of them had been seriously damaged. According to 
Turkish accounts, only one big gun had been dismounted. 

Then came the first disaster of the day. The French squadron 
was moving down to the open water inside the Straits, being still 
under fire from the inner forts. Three large shells struck the 
Bouvet almost simultaneously, and immediately after there was 
a loud explosion, and she was hidden in a cloud of smoke. The 
first impression was that she had been seriously damaged by shell 
fire, but her real wound was got from one of the mines which the 
Turks were now sending down with the current. They had waited 
to begin this new attack till the narrow waterway was full of ships. 
As the smoke cleared, the Bouvet was seen to be heeling over. 
She sank in three minutes, in thirty-six fathoms of water, carrying 
with her most of her crew. 

The attack on the forts continued as long as the light lasted. 
The mine-sweepers had been brought up the Straits in order to 
clear the passage in front, and to look out for drift-mines. An 
hour and a half after the Bouvet sank, the Irresistible turned out 
of the fighting line with a heavy list. She also had been struck by 
a mine, but she floated for more than an hour, and the destroyers 
took off nearly all her crew — a dangerous task, for they were the 
♦ A sister ship of the Triumph — 11,980 tons, four lo-inch, fourteen 7.5-inch guns. 


target all the time of Turkish fire. She sank at ten minutes to 
six, and a quarter of an hour later another drift-mine struck the 
Ocean. The latter sank almost as quickly as the Bouvet, but the 
destroyers were on the alert, and saved most of her crew. Sev- 
eral of the other ships had suffered damage and loss of life from 
the Turkish guns. The Gaulois had been repeatedly hit; her 
upper works were seriously injured, and a huge rent had been torn 
in her bows. The Inflexible had been struck by a heavy shell, 
which killed and wounded the majority of the men and officers 
in her fire-control station, and set her on fire forward. 

As the sun set most of the forts were still in action, and 
during the short twilight the Allied fleet slipped out of the 
Dardanelles. The great attack on the Narrows had failed — 
failed, with the loss of three battleships and the better part of a 
thousand men. 

At first it was the intention of Admiral de Robeck to continue 
the attack, and the British Admiralty assented. But on 19th 
March Sir Ian Hamilton, who had seen part of the action, tele- 
graphed to Kitchener that he had been reluctantly forced to the 
conclusion that the Dardanelles could not be forced by battle- 
ships alone, and by the 22nd De Robeck had come round to the 
same opinion. Lord Fisher felt himself bound to accept the 
view of the admiral on the spot, and though Mr. Churchill, sup- 
ported by some of the younger naval officers, pressed for a 
renewal of the attack, he was compelled to bow to the opinion of 
his professional advisers. On the information at the disposal of 
the British Government it is hard to see what other course was 
open to them except to withdraw the fleet. Even if the enemy 
was running short of ammunition, the forts were sufficiently 
intact to protect the mine-field, and the mine-field barred the road 
for the great ships. Of the Allied fleet of sixteen battleships three 
had been sunk and four disabled long before they had come to 
the hardest part of their task. It is idle to discuss whether, had 
the action been persisted in even at the cost of more ships, the 
Turkish defence would have crumbled. Such discussions belong 
to the realm of pure hypothesis, and statesmen without a gift 
of prophecy must be content to decide on the gross and patent 
facts before them. Undoubtedly the Turks were gravely alarmed, 
and certain sections of the defence were ready to despair. But 
it is not less indubitable that, had the fleets attacked again, there 
would have been a stubborn resistance and such losses as would 
have left too weak a naval force for the joint operation now under 


contemplation. It was a gamble which no responsible Government 
could have justified to its people.* 


When the attack by ships alone was decided upon, small 
landing parties of marines had been contemplated ; and early 
in February, before the bombardment began, the Government's 
notion of using troops rapidly extended. Even if the fleet suc- 
ceeded to their full expectations soldiers would be needed to clear 
the shores of the Straits and guard the communications. The 
decision not to embark on an immediate offensive in the West 
and the failure of the Turkish assault on the Suez Canal had left 
Kitchener with certain forces at his disposal, and he was prepared 
to send the 29th Division to Salonika if Greece would join in the 
enterprise. When this scheme came to nought he was willing to 
use that division to assist the fleet at the Dardanelles. On gth 
February he informed the War Council that if the Navy called for 
land forces they should be forthcoming ; and on i6th February 
the Council decided to send the 29th Division at once to Lemnos, 
and to arrange, if necessary, for the dispatch of a force from 
Egypt. This decision marked the inception of the plan of mili- 
tary attack, into which the Government had drifted by slow and 
insensible stages. 

A few days later Kitchener, alarmed by the position on the 
Russian front and by a grave appeal from Joffre, countermanded 
the sailing of the 29th Division, arguing that the Royal Naval 
Division and the Australians and New Zealanders from Egypt 
would be a sufficient force for the supplementary operations con- 
templated. This decision held, in spite of Mr. Churchill's protests, 
up to loth March, by which time General Birdwood had reported 
on the problem — a loss of three weeks of valuable time. The 
29th Division was ordered to embark on the i6th, and Sir Ian 
Hamilton, who had been appointed to command the land forces, 
left England on the 13th, arriving on the 17th at Tenedos. His 
instructions from Kitchener were of the vaguest kind, and showed 
the Government still hesitating between the naval and the con- 
joint schemes. He was to avoid a landing if possible ; but if the 
fleet failed and a landing became imperative, none should be made 

• For Enver's reported view see Dardanelles Commission (Cd. 8490), p. 40. C/. 
also Morgenthau's Secrets of the Bosphorus, chaps, xvii.-xviii. 


until the full force available had assembled. Any landing on the 
Asiatic side was strongly deprecated. It may fairly be said that 
no commander-in-chief ever set out under a hazier charter. 

But one sentence in these instructions was of the first impor- 
tance : " Having entered on the project of forcing the Straits, there 
can be no idea of abandoning the scheme." Kitchener, whatever 
may be said of some of his colleagues, saw that the enterprise 
in its new form could not be run on any system of limited 
liability. It must be pushed to a triumphant conclusion, or it 
had better never have been dreamed of. Now the first point 
in such a venture is the number of available troops. No General 
Staff had worked out a plan for the conquest of the Gallipoli 
peninsula, our intelligence about Turkish preparations and strengths 
was vague, and the whole problem was in a mist of uncertainty. 
But sufficient was known to make it clear that the task was one 
of great difficulty and liable to indefinite extension. After the 
receipt of Birdwood's report Kitchener had no doubt that the 
Straits could only be forced by a large army. As early as 13th 
January he had calculated that at least 150,000 men would be 
required, and since then there had been no reason to lower the 
estimate. Everything would depend upon the first blow, and for 
that what force could he provide ? At the outside not more than 
70,000 men — the 29th Division, the Australian and New Zealand 
Corps of two divisions, the Royal Naval Division, and two French 
brigades. What reserves lay immediately behind them ? At the 
most a couple of Territorial divisions, a second French division, 
and an Indian brigade. He had not provided a strength to ensure 
success for that first blow, which, having some of the advantages 
of surprise, was the most hopeful. Should the campaign be pro- 
tracted, what reinforcements could he supply without weakening 
the fronts in Europe ? He was aware that Joffre had a large scheme 
for a summer and autumn offensive, in which Britain was pledged 
to co-operate with all her strength. For that the new British 
divisions were assigned. The eternal dilemma of divergent opera- 
tions was before him — an enterprise where victory might prove 
impossible except by courting defeat in a more vital area. 

Kitchener, as his biographer has clearly shown,* at no time 
subscribed to the heresy that the Western front could be dis- 
regarded and the main effort of Britain switched on to a new 
theatre. He realized that the form of the campaign had been 
decreed in August by the German " outmarch " ; he realized, what 

* Sir George Arthur's Life, III., p. iii. 


sundry of his colleagues forgot, that we were allies of France, and 
could not without her consent leave her to stand alone on what 
she regarded as the crucial battle-ground. Had the Allies indeed 
been gifted with supernatural insight they might have followed 
a different policy : forgone the Western offensive of 1915, for 
which they were not ready ; held that line to the stalemate which 
Germany's preoccupation in Russia would not have permitted 
her to break ; and concentrated on hacking their way through 
to Constantinople. They would have succeeded, and the final 
battle on the Western front would have come sooner. But this 
prescience is for the immortals and not for fallible men, and such 
a scheme would have been condemned as insane — and rightly 
condemned on the facts before them — by every competent soldier 
in the spring of 1915. The criticism of the British Government is 
not that it lacked the gift of second sight, but that it suffered itself 
to drift into a great venture without duly counting the cost. The 
ultimate responsibility must rest with Kitchener, who, overwhelmed 
with detail and unassisted by any competent staff, inexplicably lost 
his prudence and his firm hold upon military fundamentals. He 
consented to make the attempt with the loose fringes of Britain's 
military strength ; but to any cool observer these forces were 
patently insufficient even for the first blow, and the demand for 
further troops must be refused, or, if granted, would lead to in- 
finite difficulties in the Western theatre. The attack upon the 
Dardanelles by a land army had from the start every vice of a 
divergent operation.* 


The officer appointed to the command of the Gallipoli expedi- 
tion, Sir Ian Hamilton, had behind him forty-two years of service 
in British wars. He was a soldier of a type rare in modem armies 
— a man of wide culture, a poet, an accomplished writer, a bril- 
liant talker, a liberal politician ; but he had also proved him- 
self a man of the most conspicuous gallantry, a skilled regimental 

• As late as the beginning of March there was some hope of the co-operation of 
Greece. On ist March the Prime Minister, M. Venizelos, offered three Greek divi- 
sions. The King provisionally assented, but the offer was withdrawn, partly because 
of the opposition of M. Streit and the Greek Staff under German influence, and partly 
because of the jealousy shown by Russia of Greece playing any part in connection 
with Constantinople. Russia also promised assistance in the shape of an army corps 
which was assembled at Odessa, and which, when the Dardanelles was forced, was 
to be transported across the Black Sea to the northern mouth of the Bosphorus. 


leader, an able staff officer, and an efficient military adminis- 
trator. In a high command in the field his reputation was still 
to make, and there were critics who, with the customary British 
distrust of imagination, argued ill of his prospects, detecting in 
him a certain caprice of temperament and volatility of mind 
which left his indubitable talents unco-ordinated. He was the 
man to undertake a forlorn hope, but was he the man, they asked, 
to give the forlorn hope a chance of success ? That the venture 
was desperate and Sir Ian Hamilton's position one of immense 
difficulty no one can deny. The purpose of the Allies had already 
been betrayed by the abortive naval attack ; he was warned 
that the whole business was on sufferance, that his troops were 
only lent to him temporarily, and that his task was a coup de main, 
since a prolonged campaign might well be out of the question. 
At the same time he had been solemnly adjured by Kitchener that 
there could be no retirement. He was given nothing in the shape 
of detailed instructions by the Government, and no information 
worth mentioning about the nature of the problem before him. 
He was left free to make his own schemes, but he had no freedom 
either in the appointment of his subordinate generals or in the 
requisition of troops. His objective was fixed for him, and the 
nature and size of his weapon determined by Kitchener ; only the 
use of the weapon was left to his discretion. 

Sir Ian Hamilton in his six months' command made no grave 
mistake ; on the contrary, he faced a task of superlative hardness 
with courage, patience, and a remarkable elasticity of mind, and the 
ultimate failure can by no means be laid at his door. But in the 
medley of unjust criticism of which he was made the target one 
charge deserves examination. Long before the attack was launched 
he recognized the tenuity of his hopes. Most of his generals pro- 
tested beforehand that the enterprise was impossible. He knew 
that once British troops landed on the peninsula there could be 
no turning back, and he was aware that any reinforcements would 
have to be wrung out of an unwilling Government. Was it not 
his duty to refuse to make the attempt when he had fully explored 
its slender chances — to resign rather than to be a party to the 
waste of gallant men ? There were precedents for such a course. 
In 1796 Napoleon tendered his resignation when the Directory 
wished him to undertake a futile scheme, and, conversely, in 1800 
he cancelled his orders to Moreau when he was unable to get that 
general to assent to their merits. But to demand such conduct 
of Sir Ian Hamilton was to be blind to the facts of the situation. 


He had been ordered by Kitchener to make the attempt, and told 
that if Constantinople were taken the war would be won. These 
were his commands, which, as a soldier, he was bound to obey 
unless they were clearly proven to be insane. But, while the hazard 
seemed immense in those early days of April, it could not have been 
regarded as altogether beyond human powers to surmount ; the 
very imperfection of the British intelligence left many unknown 
factors as a ground for hope. Had he resigned he would have been 
liable to the charge that he had refused through timidity a mission 
of the first importance, difficult but not patently impossible, 
and had failed in the true spirit of military discipline. Such a 
gran rifiuto would have been rejected by most soldiers ; it was 
unthinkable in the case of a man of Sir Ian Hamilton's bold and 
sanguine spirit. 

In appreciating the situation there seemed to him four places 
worthy of consideration for the landing of his army. There was 
the Asiatic coast, against which he had been expressly warned in 
Kitchener's instructions ; in any case an advance in that quarter 
would have required greater strength than he possessed, and would 
have been in perpetual danger of flank and rear attacks from the 
Turkish forces in Asia Minor.* A second was at the neck of the 
peninsula at Bulair ; but the place was strongly fortified, and too 
far from the Narrows, the real objective. The same argument 
applied against a landing at Enos at the mouth of the Maritza. 
He was therefore driven back to a landing on the peninsula itself, 
and it cannot be denied that he was right. There alone he could 
get the full co-operation of the fleet and protect his communica- 
tions, and there alone would success give immediately the full 
strategical rewards. 

The military elements of the peninsula were simple. To master 
it involved an assault from the ^gean, and the possible landing- 
places were few in number, small in extent, and clearly defined 
by the nature of the ground. Gaps must be found in the screen 
of yellow cliffs which fringed the sea. If we take the peninsula 
west of a line drawn north and south across the upper end of 
the Narrows, there were only two areas where troops could be 
disembarked. One of these was the various beaches round about 
Sedd-el-Bahr and Cape Helles ; the other was on the Gulf of Saros, 
near Gaba Tepe, where the sandstone hills left a narrow space 
at the water's edge. Neither was good, and both were believed 

* Liman von Sanders thought that the Asiatic landing would have been the wiser 
course. For the arguments in its favour see Callwell's The Dardanelles, chap. iv. 


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by the Turkish Staff to be wholly impracticable; nevertheless 
they left no stone unturned in their defence. The mere landing 
of the Expeditionary Force would not effect much. The hills 
of the Gallipoli peninsula may be said to form a natural fortress 
defending the rear of the Narrows forts. It will be seen from the 
map that behind the point of Kilid Bahr is a rocky plateau, which 
is more than 600 feet high, and extends inland for some five miles. 
Its highest ridge runs up to the summits known to the Turks as 
Pasha Dagh. These hills are a salient with the point towards 
the Gulf of Saros, and the sides curving back to the Dardanelles 
above and below Kilid Bahr. North the high ground continues, 
and is pierced by a pass, through which a rough track ran from 
Krithia to the town of Maidos, on the channel opposite Nagara. 
But to an invader coming from the west and aiming at Maidos 
the Pasha Dagh was not the only obstacle. West of it and south 
of Krithia rises the bold peak of Achi Baba, nearly 600 feet high, 
which sends out rocky spurs on both sides to the Dardanelles and 
the Gulf of Saros, and forms a barrier from sea to sea across the 
narrow western point of the peninsula. The problem before Sir 
Ian Hamilton was, therefore, plain enough in its general lines. 
He must effect a landing at the apex of the peninsula and at Gaba 
Tepe, in the Gulf of Saros. It would then be the business of the 
force landed at the first point to fight its way to Krithia, and carry 
the Achi Baba ridge, while the second force would advance from 
Gaba Tepe against the pass leading to Maidos. It might then be 
possible for the left wing of the first to come in touch with the 
right wing of the second, and together to force the Pasha Dagh 
plateau. If that movement succeeded the battle was won. He 
could bring up artillery to the plateau, which would make the 
European forts untenable. Moreover, he would dominate at 
short range the enemy's positions on the Asiatic side, and a com- 
bined attack by land and sea would give the Narrows to his 

The first steps were, unfortunately, attended with some con- 
fusion. Mudros Bay in Lemnos had been selected as the advanced 
base, and early in March the first Australian troops had landed 
there from Egypt. But when the divisions from England ar- 
rived it appeared that the ships had been faultily loaded — 
nobody's blame, for when they sailed there was no knowledge of 
the precise operations for which they would be required — and it 
was found necessary to redistribute the troops on the transports 
if they were to be disembarked ready for immediate action. This 


could not be done at Mudros, so there was nothing for it but to take 
the Expeditionary Force to Alexandria — a delay of some weeks, 
which enabled the Turks to complete their defences on the peninsula. 
The German Liman von Sanders had been appointed to the chief 
command, with Essad Pasha as his principal subordinate. Pres- 
ently he had 40,000 troops there, with 30,000 men in immediate 
reserve, and had entrenched and fortified all the obvious landing- 
places. By the middle of April the hundred odd transports of 
the British army were back in Mudros. The force consisted of 
the 29th Division under General Hunter-Weston — eleven bat- 
talions of regulars and one of Scots TerritoriaJs ; the Anzac Corps 
under Sir William Birdwood, made up of the Australian Division 
under General Bridges, and the composite New Zealand and Aus- 
tralian Division under General Sir A. J. Godley, with two brigades 
of mounted troops without their horses ; the Royal Naval Divi- 
sion under General Paris, and a French Division under General 
d'Amade. None of the divisions were, as units, experienced in 
war, though the 2gth consisted mainly of veterans from India 
and foreign stations ; the Naval Division was a recent creation, 
as yet unproxided with artillery ; the Australasian contingent had 
enjoyed but a short training as divisions ; the French force had 
been hastily improvised, and contained a considerable number of 
native African troops. But the very heterogeneity and rawness 
of the army gave it a certain advantage in an enterprise outside 
the orthodox procedure of battle. 

The day originally fixed for the attempt was 23rd April. But 
on the 20th a storm rose which for forty-eight hours lashed the 
iEgean. On the 23rd it abated, and that afternoon the first of 
the black transports began to move out of Mudros harbour. Next 
day the rest of the force followed, all in wild spirits for this venture 
into the unknown, so that they recalled to one spectator the 
Athenians departing for the Sicilian expedition, when the galleys 
out of sheer light-heartedness raced each other to iEgina. 

That morning of Sunday, the 25th, was one of those which 
delight the traveller in April in the ^gean. A light mist fills 
the air before dawn, but it disappears with the sun, and all day 
there are clear skies, still seas, and the fresh, invigorating warmth 
of spring. The map will show the nature of the place chosen for 
the attempt. Gaba Tepe, on the north side of the peninsula, 
we have already noted. Round about Cape Helles there are 
five little beaches, originally nameless, but now for all time to 


be known by the letters accorded them by the British army. 
Beginning from the left, there is Beach Y, and, a little south of it, 
Beach X. Rounding Cape Tekke, we reach Beach W, where a 
narrow valley opens between the headlands of Tekke and Holies. 
Here there is a broad, semicircular stretch of sand. South of 
Helles is Beach V, a place of the same configuration as Beach W, 
but unpleasantly commanded by the castle and village of Sedd-el- 
Bahr at its southern end. Lastly, inside the Straits, on the east 
side of Morto Bay, is Beach S, close to the point of Eski Hissarlik. 
The landing at Gaba Tepe was entrusted to the Australian and 
New Zealand troops ; that at the Helles beaches to the 29th 
Division, with some units of the Naval Division. It was arranged 
that simultaneously the French should land on the Asiatic shore 
at Kum Kale, to prevent the Turkish batteries from being brought 
into action against our men at Beaches V and S. Part of the 
Naval Division was detached for a feint farther north in the Gulf 
of Saros. 

Let us assume that an airplane enabled us to move up and 
down the shores of the peninsula and observe the progress of the 
different landings. About one in the morning the ships arrive 
at a point five miles from the Gallipoli shores. At 1.20 the boats 
are lowered, and the troops line up on the decks. Then they em- 
bark in the flotillas, and the steam pinnaces begin to tow them 
shorewards in the hazy half-light before dawn. 

The Australians destined for Gaba Tepe are carried in de- 
stroyers which take them in close to the shore. The operations 
are timed to allow the troops to reach the beaches at daybreak. 
Slowly and very quietly the boats and destroyers steal towards 
the land. A little before five an enemy's searchlight flares out. 
The boats are now in shallow water under the Gaba Tepe cliffs, 
and the men are leaping ashore. Then comes a blaze of rifle fire 
from the Turkish trenches on the beach, and the first comers 
charge them with the bayonet. The whole cliff seems to leap 
into light, for everywhere trenches and caverns have been dug 
in the slopes. The fire falls most heavily on the men still in the 
boats, who have the difficult task of waiting as the slow minutes 
bring them shoreward. The first Australians do not linger. They 
carry the lines on the beach with cold steel, and find themselves 
looking up at a steep cliff a hundred feet high. In open order they 
dive into the scrub, and scramble up the loose yellow rocks. By a 
fortunate accident the landing is farther north than was at first 
intended, just under the cliffs of Sari Bair, At Gaba Tepe the 


long slope would have given the enemy a great advantage in de- 
fence ; but here there is only the forty-foot beach and then the 
cliffs. He who knows the ^Egean in April will remember the 
revelation of those fringed sea walls and bare brown slopes. From 
a distance they look as arid as the Syrian desert, but when the 
traveller draws near he finds a paradise of curious and beautiful 
flowers — anemone, grape hyacinth, rock rose, asphodel, and 
amaryllis. Up this rock garden the Australians race, among the 
purple cistus and the matted creepers and the thickets of myrtle. 
They have left their packs at the foot, and scale the bluffs like 
chamois. It is an achievement to rank with Wolfe's escalade of 
the Heights of Abraham. Presently they are at the top, and come 
under the main Turkish fire. But the ground gives good cover, 
and they set about entrenching the crest of the cliffs to cover the 
boats' landing. This is the position at Sari Bair at 7 a.m. 

As we journey down the coast we come next to Beach Y. 
There at 7 a.m. all is going weU. The ist King's Own Scottish 
Borderers and the Plymouth battalion of the Naval Division, 
landing at a place which the enemy thought wholly impracticable, 
have without difficulty reached the top of the cliffs. ... At 
Beach X things are even better. The Swiftsiire has plastered the 
high ground with shells, and the landing ship, the Implacable, has 
anchored close to the shore in six fathoms of water. With scarcely 
a casualty the 2nd Royal Fusiliers have gained the cliff line. . . . 
There has been a harder fight at Beach W, between Tekke and 
Helles, where the sands are broader. The shore has been trenched 
throughout, and wired and mined almost to the water's edge, and in 
the scrub of the hinterland the Turkish snipers are hidden. The 
result is that, though our ships have bombarded the beach for 
three-quarters of an hour, they cannot clear out the enemy, and 
do not seem to have made much impression on the wire entangle- 
ments. The first troops have landed to the right under the cliffs 
of Cape Helles, and have reached the top, while a party on the left 
has scaled Cape Tekke. But the men of the ist Lancashire 
Fusiliers who landed on the shore itself have had a fiery trial. They 
suffered heavily while still on the water, and on landing came up 
against unbroken lines of wire, while snipers in the valley in front 
and concealed machine guns and quick-firers rained death on them. 
Here we have had heavy losses, and at 7 a.m. the landing has not 
yet succeeded. 

But the case is more desperate still at Beach V, under Sedd- 
el-Bahr. Here, as at Beach W, there are a stretch of sand, a 

1915] THE FIRST DAY. 37 

scrubby valley, and flanking cliffs. It is the strongest of the Turkish 
positions, and troops landing in boats are exposed to every type 
of converging fire. A curious expedient has been tried. A collier, 
the River Clyde, with 2,000 men of the 2nd Hampshires, ist Dublin 
Fusiliers, and ist Munster Fusiliers on board, as well as eight boat- 
loads towed by steam pinnaces, approached close to the shore. The 
boat-loads — the rest of the Dublin Fusiliers — suffered horribly, 
for when they dashed through the shallows to the beach they 
were pinned to the ground by fire. Three lines of wire entangle- 
ments had to be forced, and a network of trenches. A bank of 
sand, five or six feet high, runs at the back, and under its cover 
the survivors have taken shelter. In the steel side of the liner 
doors have been cut, which open and disgorge men, like some 
new Horse of Troy. But a tornado of shot and shell rained on 
her, and few of the gallant men who leaped from the lighters to 
the reef, and from the reef to the sea, reached the land. Those who 
did have joined their fellows lying flat under the sand bank on 
that beach of death. ... At Beach S, in Morto Bay, all has gone 
well. Seven hundred men of the 2nd South Wales Borderers have 
been landed from trawlers, and have established themselves on 
the chff tops at the place called De Totts Battery. 

Let us go back to Sari Bair and look at the position at noon- 
day. We are prospering there, for more than 10,000 men are now 
ashore, and the work of disembarking guns and stores goes on 
steadily, though the fire from inland is still deadly. We see a 
proof of it in a boat full of dead men which rocks idly in the surf. 
The great warships from the sea send their heavy shells against the 
Turkish lines, seaplanes are " spotting " for them, and wireless 
stations are being erected on the beach. Firing from the ships 
is not easy, for the morning sun shines right in the eyes of the 
gunners. The Royal Engineers are making roads up the cliff, 
and supplies are climbing steadily to our firing line. On the turf 
on the cliff top our men are entrenched, and are working their 
way forward. Unfortunately the zeal of the Australians has 
outrun their discretion, and some of them have pushed on too far, 
looking for enemies to bayonet. They have crossed three ridges, 
and have got to a ridge above Eskikeui within sight of the Narrows. 
In that pockety country such an advance is certain death, and the 
rash attack has been checked with heavy losses. The wounded 
are being brought in, and it is no light task getting them down 
the cliffs on stretchers, and across the beach and the bullet-splashed 
sea to the warships. Remember that we are holding a position 


which is terribly conspicuous to the enemy, and all our ammunition 
and water and food have to be dragged up these breakneck cliffs. 
Still the first round has been won, Indian troops are being landed 
in support, and we are firmly placed at Sari Bair. 

As we move down the coast we find that all goes well at Beach 
X, and that the troops there are working their way forward, but 
that at Beach Y the Scottish Borderers are being heavily counter- 
attacked and are making little progress. The Implacable has knocked 
out of action a Turkish battery at Krithia which gave much annoy- 
ance to our men at Beach X. ... At Beach W we have improved 
our position. We have cleared the beach and driven the Turks out 
of the scrub at the valley foot, and the work of disembarking men 
and stores is proceeding. Our right wing — the 4th Worcesters — is 
working round by the clifFs above Cape Helles to try and enfilade 
the enemy who are holding Beach V, where our men are still in 
deadly jeopardy. . . . The scene at Beach V is strange and terrible. 
From the deep water the Cornwallis and Albion are trying to bom- 
bard the enemy at Sedd-el-Bahr, and the 15-inch shells from the 
Queen Elizabeth are screaming overhead. The Trojan Horse is 
still lying bow on against the reefs, with her men unable to move, 
and the Turkish howitzers playing on her. If a man shows his 
head he is picked off by sharpshooters. The troops we have 
landed lie flat on the beach under cover of the sand ridge, unable 
to advance or retreat, and under a steady tornado of fire. ... At 
Beach S things are satisfactory. Meantime the French landing 
at Kum Kale has achieved its purpose. Originally timed for 
6 a.m., it did not take place till 9.30. They had a skirmish with 
the Turks, partly on the height at Kum Kale, and partly on the 
Trojan plain. Then they advanced along the swell of ground 
near the coast as far as Yeni Shehr. Next evening they re- 
embarked, and joined our right wing at Beach S. They took 500 
prisoners, and could have taken more had there been room for 
them in the boats. The Turk, who showed himself a dauntless 
fighter when fighting was the order of the day, surrendered with 
great complaisance and good-humour when the game was up. 
He had no crusading zeal in the business. 

As darkness fell on that loud Sabbath, the minds of the Allied 
Staff may well have been anxious. We had gained a footing, 
but no more, and at the critical point it was but a precarious lodg- 
ment. The complexity and strength of the enemy's defence 
far surpassed our expectation. He had tunnelled the cliffs, and 
created a wonderful and intricate trench system, which took 

1915] THE SECOND DAY. 39 

full advantage of the natural strength of the ground. The fire 
from our leviathans on the deep was no more effective against 
his entrenched positions than it had been against the forts of the 

Let us resume our tour of the beaches about 10 o'clock on the 
morning of the 26th. At Sari Bair the Australians are facing 
a counter-attack. It lasts for two hours, and is met by a great 
bombardment from our ships. The end comes when, about 
noon, the Australians and New Zealanders advance with the 
bayonet, and drive back the enemy. But all that day there is 
no rest for our troops, who are perfecting their trenches under a 
deluge of shrapnel. Their flanks are indifferently secured, and 
they have but the one landing-place behind them, from which their 
front line is scarcely a thousand yards distant. They are still 
clinging precariously to the coast scarp. ... At Beach Y things 
have gone badly. Our men there had advanced during the Sunday 
afternoon, and had been outflanked and driven back to the cliff 
edge. The Scottish Borderers lost their commanding officer and 
more than half their men. It was decided to re-embark and move 
the troops to Beach X, and as we pass the retreat is going on 
successfully under cover of the ships' fire. ... At Beach X there has 
been a hard struggle. Last night we were strongly attacked there, 
and driven to the very edge of the cliffs, where we hung on in 
rough shelter trenches. This morning we are advancing again, and 
making some way. ... At Beach W, too, there has been a counter- 
attack. Yesterday afternoon our right wing there, which tried 
to relieve the position on Beach V by an enfilading attack on the 
enemy, got among wire, and was driven back. During the night 
the Turks came on in force, and we were compelled to fling our 
beach parties into the firing line, bluejackets and sappers armed 
with whatever weapons they could find. This morning the situa- 
tion is easier, we have landed more troops, and are preparing to 
move forward. 

At Beach V the landing is still in its first stage. Men are still 
sheltering on the deadly beach behind the sand bank. We have 
gained some positions among the ruins which were once Sedd-el- 
Bahr, but not enough to allow us to proceed. Even as we look a 
final effort is beginning, in which the Dublin Fusiliers and the 
Munster Fusiliers distinguish themselves, though it is hard to 
select for special praise among the splendid battalions of the 29th 
Division. It continues all morning, most gallantly directed tiU 
he fell by Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty Wylie of the Headquar- 


ters Staff, and about 2 p.m. it is successful. The main Turkish 
trenches are carried, the debris of the castle and village are cleared, 
and the enemy retreat. The landing can now go forward, and the 
men who for thirty-two hours have been huddled behind the sand 
bank, enduring torments of thirst and a nerve-racking fire, can 
move their cramped limbs and join their comrades. 

By the morning of Tuesday, the 27th, all the beaches — except 
Beach Y, which had been relinquished — were in working order, 
and the advance could proceed. The flanks were secure, and the 
front line was now more than a mile in advance of Beaches W and 
V. That day the Turkish gunners attempted to put a barrage of 
fire between the ships and the shore, but in spite of it the work of 
landing supplies went on swiftly. The scene on the beaches was 
like a gigantic shipwreck. It looked, so observers noted, as if 
an army with its stores had been washed ashore after a great gale 
or had saved themselves on rafts. That night our position at the 
apex of the peninsula ran from Eski Hissarlik on the Straits north- 
west to a point on the Gulf of Saros, 3,200 yards north-east of 
Cape Tekke. There was too little room for so large a force, and 
an advance was ordered for the 28th. 

The main objective was Krithia village, and we found the road 
stoutly opposed. Our front was the 87th Brigade on the left, 
the 88th Brigade in the centre, and a French brigade on the 
right, with the 86th Brigade in reserve. In such a country a 
line has a tendency to " bunch " and become too thin in places. 
The result was that our progress was irregular, and under the strong 
Turkish counter-attacks we were too weak to hold all we won. 
The 87th Brigade advanced two miles, the maximum we were able 
to make good, though parties of the 88th Brigade got within a 
few hundred yards of Krithia village, and the French to within 
a mile. Still, by that evening we had securely won the butt of 
the peninsula, and our front ran from three miles north-west of 
Cape Tekke to a mile north of Eski Hissarlik. 

So ended the opening stage of the Gallipoli campaign — the 
Battle of the Landing. It was a fight without a precedent. There 
had been landings — such as Abercromby's at Aboukir and Wolfe's 
at the cove west of Louisburg — fiercely contested landings, in our 
history, but none on a scale like this. Sixty thousand men, 
backed by the most powerful navy in the world, attacked a shore 
which Nature seemed to have made impregnable, and which was 
held by not inferior numbers of the enemy, in positions prepared 
for months, and supported by the latest modem artillery. The 


mere problem of transport was sufficient to deter the boldest. 
Every rule of war was set at nought. On paper the thing was 
impossible, as the Turkish army orders announced. By the 
text-books no man should have left the beaches alive. We were 
fighting against a gallant enemy who was at his best in defence 
and in this unorthodox type of battle. All accounts prove that the 
Turks fought with superlative boldness and courage, as well as with 
a reasonable chivalry. That our audacity succeeded was due to 
the unsurpassable fighting quality of our men — the regulars and 
Territorials of the 29th Division, the Naval Division, and not least 
to the dash and doggedness of the Australasian corps. Looking 
back with fuller knowledge, it is possible to question the wisdom 
of some of the details of the plan. It may be that a stronger force 
should have been landed on Beach Y ; it is reasonable to urge that 
things might have gone differently had the bulk of the army been 
put ashore between Gaba Tepe and Suvla, which was strategically 
the most vulnerable part of the peninsula. But whatever be our 
judgment on its policy or its consequences, the Battle of the 
Landing must be acclaimed as a marvellous, an unparalleled 
feat of arms. 



April ly-May 24, 1915. 

Gennany's Spring Policy in the West — The Taking of Hill 60 — The Gas Attack— 
The Second Battle of Ypres — Its Results — The Ruined City — The Political 
Situation in Britain during April and May — The Formation of a Coalition 

In April the spirits of the Western Allies were not seriously dashed. 
Russia, after many vicissitudes, was believed to be making way 
in the Carpathians in the direction of the Hungarian plains. France 
was preparing for a great effort against the most vital portion of 
the German front, and in Britain it was thought that Sir John 
French would presently repeat on an extended scale the tactics 
of Neuve Chapelle, and do more than dint the opposing line. 
Such a season of confidence is often a precursor of misfortunes 
and black depression, and within a month's time a series of des- 
perate actions on both East and West had convinced the world 
that Germany did not intend yet awhile to forgo her favourite 
part of the offensive. So far as the British front was concerned, 
the assault came where we were least ready. Our heavy guns 
had been largely taken from the northern section to assist the 
artillery preparation farther south. The French regulars had 
gone from the Ypres Canal to join the great concentration in 
Artois, and the Salient, that old cockpit of war, was held in very 
moderate strength. Suddenly, and almost without warning, it 
became the theatre of an attack which put our fortitude to a 
fiery trial. 

The German major strategy was centred on the East, and 
for the moment she could send no weight of reserves to France 
and Flanders. Her purpose there was defensive, varied by such 
local counter-attacks as might be necessary for a prudent defence. 
Though thin in numbers, she was well provided with heavy guns 



From a painling by John S. Sargetit, R.A. 

1915] POISON GAS. 43 

and shells, and in her new poison gas she had a weapon which 
she was eager to try should a favourable chance present itself. 
The device was not her own invention, having been suggested 
by a British chemist to Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. 
She was a little nervous about its use, and ever since Neuve 
Chapelle, after her fashion in such circumstances, had been circu- 
lating false reports of the use of gas by the Allies to prepare the 
world for her retaliation in kind. On the moral question it is 
needless to dogmatize. The use of gas was a breach of the rules 
of the Hague Convention which Germany had accepted, but she 
had made no secret of her attitude toward international compacts 
when they stood in the way of her interests. Gas and liquid fire 
were innovations — atrocious innovations they seemed to her 
enemies — but it is doubtful whether the suffering they caused 
was greater than the suffering from shell fire. A man who died 
in torture under chlorine might have suffered like agony from 
shrapnel. All the arguments against them might have been 
used with equal force by the mediaeval knight against gunpowder, 
by the old foot-soldier against high explosives, by the savage 
warrior against machine guns. The true point is that the inno- 
vation was not so much barbarous — all war is barbarous — as 
impolitic. Unless the weapon is so powerful as to break down all 
opposition, the innovator may find that he rouses a storm of 
resentment which nullifies the value of his device. Germany's 
opponents were not without their chemists, and could create a 
counter-weapon ; and that Germany had been a pioneer in ugly 
methods was bound to exacerbate their feelings towards her and 
lower her moral prestige among neutrals — an unfortunate result 
for a Power which was daily beginning to realize more clearly 
that an unequivocal victory was beyond her hopes. 

The First Battle of Ypres, which began on 20th October and 
ended with the repulse of the Prussian Guard on November 
II, 1914, was fought on a battle-front stretching from Bixschoote 
in the north to Armentieres in the south, over a broad salient 
whose first apex was Becelaere, and second Gheluvelt. The 
Second Battle of Ypres was confined to the northern segment 
of the Salient, between the Ypres Canal and the Menin road. 
Undoubtedly the Germans had no elaborate offensive purpose at 
the start. The battle began with a local counter-attack in return 
for our efforts at Hill 60, and when this attack prospered, owing 
to the surprise of the gas, it was pushed beyond its original aim. 
A proof is that there was no great massing of troops, as in the 


autumn battle ; local reserves were brought up, but the German 
line was not thinned elsewhere. But in two respects the battles 
were akin. The second lasted almost exactly as long as the first 
— from Thursday, 22nd April, to Thursday, 13th May, when it 
slackened owing to the British thrust from Festubert. Like the 
first, too, it was fought against heavy odds. A crushing artillery 
preponderance and the use of poison gas were more deadly assets 
than any weight of numbers. For days our fate hung in the 
balance, dispositions grew chaotic in the fog of war, and it became 
a soldiers' battle, like Malplaquet and Albuera, where rules and 
text-books were forgotten, and we held by the sheer fighting 
quality of our men. 

The map will show the peculiar difficulties of the Ypres Salient. 
Its nominal base was the line St, Eloi-Ypres-Bixschoote, but its 
real base was the town of Ypres itself. Ypres was as the hub of 
a wheel from which all the communications eastwards radiated 
like spokes. One important road crossed the canal at Steen- 
straate, and a few pontoon bridges had been built nearer Ypres ; 
but all the main routes ran through the town — to Pilkem, to Lange- 
marck, to Poelcappelle, to Zonnebeke, to Gheluvelt and Menin, 
besides the railway to Roulers. Virtually all the supplies and 
reserves for the troops holding the Salient must go through the 
neck of the bottle at Ypres. Now, early in November the Germans 
won gun positions at the southern re-entrant which enabled them 
to shell the town, and a bombardment was continued intermit- 
tently throughout the winter, A serious cannonade would 
gravely interfere with our communications, and we held the Salient 
with this menace perpetually before us. We could assume, there- 
fore, that a heavy shelling of Ypres would be a preliminary to 
any German attack. 

From the middle of November to the end of January the 
Salient was held by the French. On the ist of February part of 
the French were withdrawn, and General Bulfin's 28th Division 
was brought north to replace them. By the 20th of April the 
Allied front was as follows : From the canal through Bixschoote 
to just east of Langemarck, and covering the latter place, was a 
French division of Colonial infantry. On the right of the French, 
to a point north-east of Zonnebeke, lay the Canadian Division, 
under General Alderson, General Turner's 3rd Brigade on the left, 
and General Currie's 2nd Brigade on the right. From north-east 
of Zonnebeke to the south-east corner of the Polygon Wood was 
the 28th Division, the 85th, 84th, and 83rd Brigades in order from 

1915] HILL 60. 45 

left to right. At the corner of the Polygon Wood was Princess 
Patricia's Regiment from the 27th Division ; and this division, 
under General Snow, continued the front east of Veldhoek along 
the ridge almost to Hill 60, where General Morland's 5th Division 
took over the line. The trenches we had received from the French 
were not good, especially in the section held by the Canadians 
and the 85th Brigade. They were very wet, and the dead were 
buried in the bottoms and the sides, so that to improve them 
was a gruesome and unwholesome task. Had it been possible, it 
would have been wiser to construct a wholly new line. Farther 
south the situation was better, and the 83rd Brigade and the 27th 
Division were more comfortably placed. Against this section was 
arrayed the left wing of the Duke of Wiirtemberg's IV. Army, 
whose headquarters were at Thielt. 

To understand the significance of the events which began on 
22nd April it is necessary to go back to what happened on the 
17th, for, though the operations at Hill 60 were not strictly a part 
of the Ypres battle, they were a link in the chain of causes. Hill 
60 was only a hill to the eye of faith, being no more than an earth 
heap from the cutting of the Ypres-Lille railway. Its advan- 
tage was that it gave a position from which the whole German 
front in the neighbourhood of Hollebeke Chateau could be com- 
manded. It lay just east of the hamlet of Zwartelen, where the 
Household Brigade made their decisive charge on the night of 
6th November. About seven in the evening of 17th April we 
exploded mines on the hill, won the top, entrenched ourselves 
in the shell craters, and brought up machine guns. Next day, 
Sunday, at 6.30, the Germans made a counter-attack in mass 
formation, which resulted in a desperate struggle at close quarters. 
Our machine guns mowed down the enemy, but he reached our 
trenches, and there was some fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Re- 
peatedly during the day the attacks were renewed, but all were 
driven back, and by the evening we had expelled the enemy from 
the slopes of the hill with the bayonet. For the next three days 
there was no respite. The position was vital to the enemy if he 
would keep his Hollebeke ground, and a Saxon division was 
hurled against it, with the support of artillery and asphyxiating 
bombs. The hill formed a salient, and we were exposed to fire 
from three sides. On the 19th and 20th the cannonade continued, 
and on the evening of the latter day, about 6.30, there was another 
infantry attack which lasted for an hour and a half, while all the 
night parties with hand grenades worked their way up to oui 


trenches. On Wednesday morning, the 21st, the enemy had 
established himself at one point on the slopes, at the north-east 
edge ; but in the afternoon he was dislodged. Against an area 
250 yards long by 200 deep tons of metal were flung, and for four 
and a half days the defenders lived through a veritable hell. But 
on Thursday, the 22nd, the hill was still ours, and there came a 
sudden lull in the attack — another such dangerous lull as that 
which in the previous October had preceded the launching of the 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the 20th, the bombardment of Ypres 
had begun. Suddenly into the streets of the little city, filled with 
their normal denizens and our own reserves, there fell the great 
42-cm. shells. Fifteen children were killed at play, and a number 
of civilians perished in the debris. It was the warning for which 
we were prepared, and the High Command grew anxious. The 
destruction of Ypres served no military object in itself. It could 
only be a means to the blocking of the routes through which we 
supplied our lines in the Salient, It could not be aimed at Hill 
60, where our communications had a free road to the west. It 
must herald an attack on the section between the canal and the 
Menin road. 

The evening of Thursday, the 22nd, was calm and pleasant, 
with a light, steady wind blowing from the north-east. About 
6.30 our artillery observers reported that a strange green vapour 
was moving over the French trenches. Then, as the April night 
closed in, and the great shells still rained upon Ypres, there were 
strange scenes between the canal and the Pilkem road. Back 
through the dusk came a stream of French soldiers, blinded and 
coughing and wild with terror. Some black devilry had come 
upon them, and they had broken before a more than human 
fear. Behind them they had left hundreds of their comrades 
stricken and dead, with froth on their lips and horrible blue faces. 
The rout surged over the canal, and the road to Vlamertinghe 
was choked with broken infantry and galloping gun teams lacking 
their guns. No discredit attached to those who broke, for the 
pressure was more than flesh and blood could bear. Some of the 
Zouaves and Turcos fled due south towards the Langemarck road, 
and in the early darkness came upon the Canadian reserve bat- 
talions. With amazement the Canadians saw the wild dark faces, 
the heaving chests, and the lips speechless with agony. Then 
they too sniffed something in the breeze, something which caught 
at their throats and affected them with a deadly nausea. The 


instant result was a four-mile breach in the Allied line. \^'Tiat 
was left of the French were back on the canal from Boesinghe to 
Steenstraate, where they were being pushed across by the German 
attack, and between them and the left of the Canadian 3rd Brigade 
were four miles of undefended country. Through this gap the 
Germans were pouring, preceded by the fumes of the gas, and sup- 
ported by a heavy artillery fire. 

The Canadians had suffered from the gas, but to a less extent 
than the French. With his flank in the air there was no course 
before General Turner except to refuse his left. Under the pres- 
sure of an attack by four divisions the 3rd Brigade bent inwards 
from a point just south of Poelcappelle till its left rested on the 
wood east of St. Julien, between the Langemarck and Poelcappelle 
roads. Beyond it there was still a gap, and the Germans were 
working round its flank. The whole ist Canadian Brigade was 
in reserve, and it was impossible to use it at a moment's notice ; 
but two of its battalions were in the brigade reserve of the 2nd 
and 3rd, and these were brought forward by midnight and flung 
into the breach. A battery of 4.7 guns, lent by a London Territorial 
division to support the French, was in the wood east of St. Julien. 
The gun teams were miles away. That wood had no name, but 
it deserved to be christened by the name of the troops who died in 
it. For through it the two Canadian battalions charged at mid- 
night, and won the northern fringe. They recaptured the guns, 
but could not bring them away ; but they destroyed parts of 
them before they fell again into German hands, when the line 
was forced back by artillery fire. Another counter-attack was 
attempted to ease the strain. Two further battalions of the ist 
Canadian Brigade charged the German position in the gap. They 
carried the first German shelter trenches, and held them till relief 
came two days later. 

A wilder battle has rarely been witnessed than the struggle 
of that April night. The British reserves at Ypres, shelled out 
of the town, marched to the sound of the firing, with the strange, 
sickly odour of the gas blowing down upon them. The roads 
were congested with the nightly supply trains for the troops in 
the Salient. All along our front the cannonade was severe, while 
the Canadian left, bent back almost at right angles, was struggling 
to entrench itself under cover of counter-attacks. In some cases 
they found French reserve trenches to occupy, but more often 
they had to dig themselves in where they were allowed. The 
right of the German assault was beyond the canal in several places, 


and bearing hard on the French remnants on the eastern bank. 
All was confusion, for no staff work was possible. To their eternal 
honour the 3rd Canadian Brigade did not break. Overwhelmed 
with superior numbers of men and guns, and sick to death with 
the poisoned fumes, they did what men could do to stem the 
tide. And all the while there was the yawning rent on their left 
which gave the enemy a clear way to Ypres. Strangely enough, 
he did not push his advantage. As in the First Battle of Ypres, 
he broke our line, but could do little in the breach. 

Very early in the small hours of Friday morning, the 23rd, 
the first British reinforcements arrived in the gap. They came 
mostly from the 28th Division, which, as we have seen, was hold- 
ing the line from east of Zonnebeke to the south-east corner of 
the Polygon Wood. The line was held by three companies of 
each battalion, with one in support, and the supporting companies 
were sent to reinforce the Canadians. This accounted for the 
strange mixture of units in the subsequent fighting. In addition 
they had in reserve the 2nd Buffs, the 8th Middlesex (Territorials), 
the ist York and Lancaster, the 5th King's Own (Territorials), 
and the 2nd East Yorks. These five battalions, under the com- 
mand of Colonel Geddes of the Buffs, took up position in the gap, 
and acted along with the battalions of the ist Canadian Brigade, 
which had conducted the first counter-attack. This force varied 
from day to day — almost from hour to hour — in composition, 
and for convenience may be referred to as Geddes's Detachment. 
It picked up, as the fighting went on, some strange auxiliaries. 
Suddenly there were added to it two officers and 120 men of the 
Northumberland Fusiliers. They were the grenadier company 
of that battalion, who had been lent to Hill 60, and had already 
been eight days in the trenches. Bearded, weary, and hungry, 
this company, marching back to rejoin their division, fell in with 
Geddes's Detachment, and took their place in its firing line. That 
night the " Fighting Fifth " lived up to its fame. 

On the morning of Friday, 23rd, the situation was as follows : 
The 27th Division was in its old position, as was the 28th, save 
that the latter was much depleted by the supports which it 
had dispatched westwards, and was strung out in its trenches 
like beads, one man to every twelve yards. The Canadian 
2nd Brigade was intact, but the 3rd Brigade was bent back so 
as to cover St. Julien, whence the supporting Canadian battalions 
and Geddes's Detachment carried the line to the canal at BoC' 
singhe. North of this the French held on to the east bank ; but 


the Germans had crossed at various points, and had taken Lizeme 
and Het Sas, and were threatening Steenstraate. The British 
cavalry— General AUenby's three divisions and General Riming- 
ton's two Indian divisions — were being hurried up to support the 
French west of the canal. That day there was a severe artillery 
bombardment all along the front of the 28th Division, the Cana- 
dians, and Geddes's Detachment, especially from the heavy guns 
on the Passchendaele ridge. But the fighting was heaviest against 
the Canadian 3rd Brigade, which by now was in desperate straits. 
Its losses had been huge, and the survivors were still weak from 
the effects of the gas. No food could reach it for twenty-four 
hours, and then only bread and cheese. Holding a salient, it 
suffered fire from three sides, and by the evening was driven to 
a new line through St. Julien. One company of the Buffs sent 
up by Geddes to support it was altogether destroyed. There 
were gaps in all this front, and the Germans succeeded in working 
round the left of the 3rd Brigade, and even getting their machine 
guns behind it. 

About three o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 24th, a 
violent artillery cannonade began. At 3.30 there came the second 
great gas attack. The gas was pumped from cylinders, and, 
rising in a cloud, which at its maximum was seven feet high, it 
travelled in two minutes the distance between the lines. It was 
thickest close to the ground, and filled every cranny of the trenches. 
Our men had still no knowledge of it, and were provided with no 
prophylactics, but instinct taught some of them what to do. A 
wet handkerchief wrapped round the mouth gave a little relief, 
and it was best for a man to keep on his feet. It was fatal to run 
back, for in that case he followed the gas zone, and the exertion 
of rapid movement compelled deep breathing, and so drew the 
poison into the lungs. Its effect was to fill the lungs with fluid 
and produce acute bronchitis. Those smitten by it suffered 
horribly, gasping and struggling for breath, with blue, swollen 
faces, and eyes bursting from the head. It affected the sight, 
too, and produced temporary blindness. Even a thousand yards 
from the place of emission men were afflicted with violent sickness 
and giddiness. After that it dissipated itself, and only the blanched 
herbage marked its track. That day, the 24th, saw the height 
of the Canadians' battle. The much-tried 3rd Brigade, now gassed 
for the second time, could no longer keep its place. Its left fell 
back well to the south-west of St. Julien, gaps opened up in its 
front, and General Currie's 2nd Brigade was left in much the same 


position as that of the 3rd Brigade on Thursday evening. His 
left was compelled to swing south to conform ; but Colonel Lip- 
sett's 8th Battalion, which held the pivoting point on the Grafen- 
stafel ridge — the extreme north-eastern point of our salient — 
did not move an inch. Although heavily gassed, they stayed in 
their trenches for two days until they were relieved. The 3rd 
Brigade, temporarily forced back, presently recovered itself, and 
regained much of the lost ground. 

About midday a German attack developed against the village 
of St. Julien and the section of our line immediately east of it. 
The 3rd Brigade was withdrawn some 700 yards to a new line 
south of the village and just north of the hamlet of Fortuin. 
The remnants of the 13th and 14th Battalions could not be with- 
drawn, and remained — a few hundred men — in the St. Julien line, 
fighting till far on in the night their hopeless battle with a gallantry 
which has shed eternal lustre on their motherland. Scarcely less 
fine was the stand of Colonel Lipsett's 8th Battalion at Grafen- 
stafel. Though their left was in the air they never moved, and 
at the most critical moment held the vital point of the British 
front. Had the Grafenstafel position gone, the enemy would in 
an hour have pushed behind the 28th Division and the whole 
eastern section. Far on the west the French counter-attacked 
from the canal and made some progress ; but the Germans were 
still strong on the west bank, and took Steenstraate, though the 
Belgian artillery succeeded in destroying the bridge behind them. 
Meantime British battalions were being rushed up as fast as they 
could be collected. The 13th Brigade from the 5th Division took 
up position west of Geddes's Detachment, between the canal 
and the Pilkem road, and they were supported by the York and 
Durham Brigades of the Northumbrian Territorial Division, which 
had arrived from England only three days before. The loth 
Brigade from the 4th Division was coming up to support the 3rd 
Canadian Brigade south of St. Julien. To reinforce the critical 
point at Grafenstafel the 8th Battalion of the Durham Light 
Infantry Brigade of the Northumbrian Division, and the ist 
Hampshires from the 4th Division, took their place between the 
8th Canadians and the left of the 28th Division. The Canadians 
were gradually being withdrawn ; the 3rd Brigade had already 
gone, and the Lahore Division and various battalions of the 4th 
were about to take over this part of the line. 

But meantime an attempt was made to retake St. Julien. 
Early on the Sunday morning, 25th April, about 4.30, an attack 


was delivered by General Hull's loth Brigade and two battalions 
of the York and Durham Brigade against the village. It was 
pushed up through the left centre of the Canadian remnant to 
the very edge of the houses, where it was checked by the numerous 
German machine guns. In the assault the loth Brigade had des- 
perate casualties, while the York and Durham battalions, which 
missed direction in the advance, lost 13 officers and 213 rank and 
file. On that day, so mixed was the fighting. General Hull had 
under him at one moment no less than fifteen battalions, as well 
as the whole artillery of the Canadian Division. Farther east 
the 8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade at 
Grafenstafel was heavily attacked with asphyxiating shells — less 
deadly than the gas, but for the moment incapacitating — and at 
2 p.m. a German attack was launched against its two front com- 
panies. From 2 to 7 p.m. they hung on, and then the pressure 
proved too great, and they fell back with heavy losses. Farther 
on, at the extreme eastern point of the front, the Germans made 
a resolute attempt with artillery and asphyxiating bombs on the 
line of the 28th Division at Broodseinde. The 85th Brigade, 
however, managed to hold its ground, and made many prisoners. 
The position on that Sunday night was that the British line from 
west to east was held by the 13th Brigade, part of the York and 
Durham Brigade, Geddes's Detachment, the loth Brigade, more 
York and Durhams, the Lahore Division, the Hampshires, the 
8th Battahon of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, and the 28th 
Division. Our front was intact on the east as far north as the 
Grafenstafel ridge, whence it ran in a generally western direction 
through Fortuin. 

Monday, the 26th, was a day of constant and critical fighting, 
but we managed to get our reliefs in and take out the battalions 
which had been holding the pass since the terrible night of Thursday. 
The 3rd Canadian Brigade had retired on Saturday, and the 2nd 
followed on Sunday evening. But on the Monday the latter, now 
less than 1,000 strong, was ordered back to the line, which was still 
far too thin, and, to the credit of their discipline, the men went 
cheerfully. They had to take up position in daylight, and cross 
the zone of shell fire — no light task for those who had lived through 
the past shattering days. That night they were relieved, and on 
Thursday the whole division was withdrawn from the Ypres 
Salient, after such a week of fighting as has rarely fallen to the lot 
of British troops. Small wonder that a thrill of pride went through 
the Empire at the tale, and that Canada rejoiced in the midst of 


her sorrow. Most of the officers were Canadian born, and never 
was there finer regimental leading. Three battalion commanders 
died ; many of the brigade staff officers fell ; from the 5th Bat- 
talion only ten officers survived, five from the 7th, seven from the 
8th, eight from the loth. Of the machine-gun men of the 13th 
Battalion thirteen were left out of fifty-eight, in the 7th Battalion 
only one. Consider what these men had to face. Attacked and 
outflanked by four divisions, stupefied by a poison of which 
they had never dreamed and which they did not understand, 
with no heavy artillery to support them, they endured till rein- 
forcements came, and they did more than endure. After days 
and nights of tension they had the vitality to counter-attack. 
When called upon they cheerfully returned to the inferno they had 
left. If the Salient of Ypres will be for all time the classic battle- 
ground of Britain, that bloodstained segment between the Poel- 
cappelle and Zonnebeke roads will remain the Thermopylae of 
Canadian arms. 

The Monday's fighting fell chiefly to the Northumbrian and 
Lahore Divisions, which had taken the Canadians' place. Let 
us glance at the several engagements along our front. The 13th 
Brigade on the left was not seriously troubled, nor was Geddes's 
Detachment, which that evening was broken up and the battalions 
returned to the 28th Division. Its gallant commander fell mor- 
tally wounded as he was leaving the trenches. At four in the 
morning the Germans attacked the two companies of the 8th 
Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade at Fortuin and 
enveloped them, so that they were compelled to fall back behind 
the Hannebeeke stream, from which in the evening they retired 
400 yards to still another line. The other battalions of the brigade 
were ordered to advance to the Frezenberg ridge, so as to take 
the enemy in flank. They suffered heavily from shell fire, for the 
Germans were making a curtain behind us to prevent our receiving 
reinforcements. The Northumberland Brigade, under General 
Riddell, was ordered at 10.15 a.m. to move to Fortuin. Along 
with the Lahore Division they made an attack upon St. Julien. 
It was part of a general counter-attack by the Allies, which farther 
west led to the French retaking Lizerne and the trenches around 
Het Sas, and which did much to check the enemy's offensive and 
relieve the desperate pressure on our line. But the attack on St. 
Julien prospered ill. The Northumberland Brigade had had no 
time to reconnoitre the ground, it was held up by wire, and it 
received the worst of the shell fire. Its 6th Battalion managed to 

1915] THE 2nd of may. 53 

get 250 yards in advance of our front trenches, but could not hold 
the position. The brigadier, General Riddell, fell at 3.30, and the 
Brigade lost 42 officers and some 1,900 men. Daylight attacks 
of this kind were impossible in the face of an enemy so well pro- 
vided with guns, and the Lahore Division fared no better. Most 
of its battalions never got up through the fire curtain to our trenches. 
The 40th Pathans, the famous " Forty Thieves " of Indian military 
history, were among the chief sufferers. Their colonel fell, and 
nearly all their British officers were killed or wounded. Farther 
east, at Grafenstafel, there was fierce fighting. The 85th Brigade 
kept their line intact, but on their left, in a wood between the ridge 
and the Passchendaele road, there was a fatal corner. By the 
evening they were compelled to give up the north-west section 
of the ridge, and our front was temporarily pierced at Broodseinde. 
That night we slightly altered our line. The 28th Division on 
the right held its old front from the south-east corner of the 
Polygon Wood to just north of Zonnebeke and the eastern edge 
of the Grafenstafel ridge. Then our front bent south-west along 
the left bank of the Hannebeeke stream to a point half a mile east 
of St. Julien. There it turned south to the Vamheule Farm on 
the Poelcappelle road. That farm our men christened Shelltrap, 
and it played a great part in the later fighting. Thence it ran to 
just west of the Langemarck road, where it joined the French. 
The British line from left to right was held by the 13th Brigade, 
from the French to Shelltrap Farm ; the loth Brigade on to 
Fortuin ; the Northumbrian Division, and the 28th Division, 
which had now for the most part received back its battahons 
from the western and central sections. The Lahore Division was 
being withdrawn, and the nth and 12th Brigades of the 4th 
Division were on their way up, and there were odd fragments of 
other divisions in the front. The patchwork nature of our line 
made staff work excessively difficult. Units and bits of units 
were brought up and used to strengthen weak places. We have 
seen the experience of the brigadier of the loth Brigade on the 
25th. General Prowse of the nth Brigade a few days later found 
himself suddenly in command of twelve British battalions and 
three French. 

We may pass over the next few days till the morning of Sun- 
day, 2nd May. On the last day of April the 12th Brigade, under 
General Anley, took over the line held by the 13th Brigade on 
the extreme left of the British section. On its right was the loth 
Brigade from Shelltrap Farm to Fortuin. Then came the nth 


Brigade, holding 5,000 yards on the right of the northern section. 
On the 29th it was badly shelled, and the London Rifle Brigade 
lost 170 men. Next day it had to face a German thrust from St. 
Julien, which the Territorials drove back with machine-gun fire. 
The loth Brigade held the old French second trenches, very badly 
made and awkwardly placed, but it was their boast that they never 
lost a trench. Beyond it lay the 28th Division, holding 6,000 
yards down to the Polygon Wood. It was obvious that the 4th 
Division was holding far too long a line, and General Bulfin, who 
was in charge of the operations, resolved to shorten the front. 
The extended Salient had always been a danger. Now that it 
had been broken on the north there was no reason for maintaining 
a position which was open to assault upon three sides. We held 
what was virtually an oblong, five miles long by about three 
broad, with ugly comers at Grafenstafel and the Polygon Wood. 
Accordingly preparations were made for a bold retirement which 
would make of the Salient an easy curve with its farthest point 
under three miles from the town. But first, on Sunday, 2nd May, 
we had to meet a new German attack. Gas and asphyxiating 
bombs were discharged both against the French on the Ypres 
Canal and the 4th Division east and west of Fortuin. The French 
were ready for it. Their 75-mm. guns mowed down the invaders, 
and the German position in that section was in no way improved. 
Against the British they fared little better. By this time our 
men had respirators — not yet of the best pattern — and they man- 
aged to let the gas blow past with little loss. The result was that 
the 4th Division, assisted by the 4th Hussars, who had come up as 
reinforcements from the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, succeeded in hold- 
ing its ground. 

On 3rd May the time came to shorten the line. The 12th 
Brigade on the left did not move ; it was the pivot of the opera- 
tion. Battalions were withdrawn piecemeal, and picked rifle- 
men from each company were left to cover the retirement. This 
withdrawal, in perfect order, in a very short time, and with no 
losses, was a most creditable piece of staff work. The task was 
begun as soon as the darkness fell. Every day of the fighting the 
wounded had been got in under cover of night, and in the cellars 
of Zonnebeke village operations had been performed by candle- 
light. That evening the wounded were evacuated, all but a small 
number of very bad cases whom it was impossible to move, and 
who were left behind in charge of two orderhes. The Royal Army 
Medical Corps had never done more brilliant work in all its 


brilliant history. The difficulty of such a withdrawal may be 
realized from the fact that at some places, such as Grafenstafel 
and Broodseinde, the Germans were within ten yards of our line. 
Not less than 780 wounded were removed from our front, and the 
retirement of the battalions was equally skilful. Not a single 
man was lost. The 85th Brigade had a difficult task, coming from 
the extreme north-eastern point of the Salient. The nth, coming 
from Fortuin, had to move for nearly four miles down lines of 
parallel trenches. Most of the supplies and ammunition was 
removed, and what could not be carried was buried. 

The new line ran from the French west of the Langemarck 
road by Shelltrap Farm, along the Frezenberg ridge, and then due 
south, including the Bellewaarde Lake and Hooge, and curving 
round to the Zillebeke ridge and Hill 60. The 27th Division held 
it from near the latter point up to the Menin road, the 28th along 
the Frezenberg ridge to just east of Shelltrap, and the 4th Division 
to the junction with the French. This line was at least three 
miles shorter than the old one, so it could be held with fewer 
troops, which gave a chance of rest to some of the brigades which 
had been most highly tried. The critical point was now the 
centre on the eastern front of the Salient, which ran from the 
Hannebeeke stream along the eastern face of the Frezenberg 
ridge. This ridge covered all the roads from Ypres by which 
supplies and reinforcements travelled, and if the Germans should 
carry it our position would be gravely prejudiced. It was a ridge 
just as Hill 60 was a hill — by courtesy only ; for the eye could 
barely detect the gentle swell among the flat meadows. 

For the next three days there was little more than a heavy 
shelling. At the south-western extremity of the Salient, Hill 60 
was recaptured by a German gas attack on 5th May. Early on 
the morning of the 8th, about 5.30, there was an attack on the 
centre held by the 28th Division. The result of that day and of 
the next, Sunday the 9th, was that our line was pushed back 
west of the Frezenberg ridge till it ran east of the well-named 
hamlet of Verlorenhoek, on the Zonnebeke road. 

On the following Wednesday, the 12th, certain changes were 
made on the front thus further drawn in. The 28th Division 
went into reserve. It had been fighting continuously since 22nd 
April, and its losses had been almost equal to those which the 
7th Division had suffered in the First Battle of Ypres. Only 
one lieutenant-colonel was left, and most of its battalions were 
commanded by captains. Its place was now taken by a cavalry 


detachment, the ist and 3rd Cavalry Divisions, under General 
De Lisle.* The line was now held from left to right by the 12th 
Brigade, the nth Brigade, and a battalion from the loth Brigade 
of the 4th Division to a point north-east of Verlorenhoek. Then 
came the ist Cavalry Division up to the Roulers railway, and the 
3rd Cavalry from the railway to the Bellewaarde Lake, whence 
the 27th Division continued the line to Hill 60. It was not a 
good line, for it had no natural advantages, and its trenches 
were to a large extent recently improvised. 

The cavalry took up their ground on the evening of Wednesday, 
12th May. The ist Division line was held from left to right by 
the ist and 2nd Brigades, with the newly formed gth Brigade 
in reserve ; that of the 3rd Division by the 6th and 7th Brigades, 
with the 8th Brigade in reserve. Early on the morning of Thurs- 
day, the 13th, a day of biting north winds and drenching rains, 
a terrific bombardment began against the cavalry front. The 
2nd Brigade of the ist Division was affected, but the brunt came 
on the 3rd Division. In a short space more than 800 shells fell on 
a line of little more than a mile. General David Campbell brought 
up the Royals from his brigade reserve, and the line of the 6th Bri- 
gade remained intact. Not so that of the 7th Brigade on the right. 
There the shelling was too desperate for man to endure, and the 
brigade fell back some hundreds of yards, making an ugly dent in 
our front, and leaving a gap between it and the right of the 6th 
Brigade. The loth Hussars and the Blues were hurried up to fill 
the rent, and at 2.30 p.m. the whole 8th Brigade, under General 
Bulkeley- Johnson — the loth, the Blues, and the Essex Yeomanry 
— made a counter-attack to recover the lost ground. That charge 
of dismounted cavalry was one of the great episodes of the battle. 
The cavalry advanced as if on parade, so magnificent was their 
discipline. The charge succeeded, for we took the lost ground ; 
but it was beyond our power to hold it. The German heavy guns, 
exactly ranged, made the place a death-trap. By that evening 
this section of our line had fallen back in a sag between the Belle- 
waarde Lake and Verlorenhoek. For that day we paid a heavy 
price. In the ist Division the gth Lancers and i8th Hussars 
suffered much, and in the 3rd Division the Royals, the Blues, the 

* Important changes had now been made in the high commands. Sir Horace 
Smith-Dorrien, who had acquitted himself brilHantly in a long series of actions 
from Le Cateau to La Bassee, had relinquished the command of the Second Army, 
and his place had been taken by Sir Herbert Plumer, the commander of the Fifth 
Corps. The Fifth Corps was now under Allenby, and he in turn had handed 
over the Cavalry Corps to Julian Byng, who had formerly commanded the 3rd 
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loth Hussars, and the three Yeomanry regiments were mere 
shadows of their former strength. As always in our battles, the 
toll of gallant officers was lamentably high. On the same day the 
infantry on our left were fiercely attacked, but contrived to hold 
their ground. The gallant stand of the London Rifle Brigade, a 
Territorial battalion, saved the right of the 4th Division. Farther 
on the left the 2nd Essex, the reserve battalion of the 12th Brigade, 
did no less brilliantly. Shelltrap Farm, between the Poelcappelle 
and Langemarck roads, had fallen into German hands. The 
Essex cleared it with the bayonet, and all that day the place was 
taken and retaken, but we held it in the evening. 

Battles in this war did not usually end with a grand climax, 
but ebbed away in a series of lesser engagements. By this time 
our activity in the Festubert region and the vigorous thrust of 
the French towards Lens had compelled the Germans to move 
some of their heavy guns farther south. There remained, however, 
the deadly weapon of the gas, and before we close the tale we must 
record an instance of its use, the most desperate of all. After the 
13th the 3rd Cavalry Division, which was now severely reduced, 
was withdrawn into reserve, and its place taken by the 2nd, under 
General Briggs. The early morning of Monday, the 24th, promised 
a perfect summer day, with a cloudless sky and a light north- 
easterly breeze. Just after dawn our front was bombarded with 
asphyxiating shells, and immediately afterwards gas was released 
from cylinders against the whole three miles of line from Shelltrap 
to the Bellewaarde Lake. The wind carried it south-westwards, 
so that it affected nearly five miles of front ; the cloud in some 
places rose to forty feet, and for four and a half hours the emis- 
sion continued. The chief sufferers were the infantry of the 4th 
Division on our left. Where the men were handy with their res- 
pirators they managed to hold their ground, and the cavalry on 
the whole suffered little. After the gas came a violent bombard- 
ment from north, north-east, and east. The chief attacks were in 
the vicinity of Shelltrap, against our front on the Roulers railway, 
and along the Menin road near Bellewaarde Lake ; and in these 
areas we were forced back for some little distance. The three 
salients which the enemy had now established did not profit him 
much, and before the evening our counter-attacks had re-established 
most of the line except in two places near Shelltrap and the Menin 
road. This last stage of the battle was a triumph for the cavalry, 
and their splendid steadfastness saved the infantry on their left 
and right. 


The Second Battle of Ypres was less critical than the first, 
for it was not fought to defeat any great strategical intention. 
It was an episode in the war of attrition, in which the Germans, 
by the use of heavy artillery and gas, caused us severe losses 
without gaining any special advantage of position. We still 
held the Ypres Salient — a diminished salient ; but we had lost 
so heavily that, so far as attrition went, the balance of success 
was clearly with the enemy. On the other hand, the moral gain 
was ours. The Germans had a wonderful machine — a machine 
made up of great cannon firing unlimited quantities of high-ex- 
plosive shells, an immense number of machine guns, and the 
devilry of the poisoned gas. We had no such mechanism to 
oppose to theirs, and our men were prevented from coming to 
grips. The Second Battle of Ypres was the first event which 
sharply brought home to the British people the inferiority of the 
machine which handicapped their man-power, and it led indirectly 
to that reconstruction of the Government with which we shall 
presently deal. 

The moral gain was ours, because no battle in the war so con- 
vinced us of our superiority in manhood, and inspired our troops 
with a stronger optimism or a more stubborn determination. 
We learned that we had now a homogeneous army, in which it 
was hard to say that one part was better than another. The 
Territorials, infantry and cavalry, whether they had been out 
since November or had left home a few days before, held their 
ground in the most nerve-racking kind of conflict with the valour 
and discipline of veterans. The miners of South Wales and North 
England, the hinds and mechanics of the Scottish Lowlands, 
the shepherds and gillies of the Highlands, the clerks and shop- 
boys of London and the provincial cities, were alike in their light- 
ing value. They were led, and often brilliantly led, by men who 
a little time before had been merchants, and solicitors, and archi- 
tects. One lean veteran had ten months before been a spruce 
clerk on the Stock Exchange, travelling to the City every morning 
in the sombre regimentals of his class. He looked now like a 
big-game hunter from Equatorial Africa. Another stern disciplin- 
arian of a non-commissioned officer was a year ago a business man 
who cultivated tulips in his suburban garden. Now from him to 
Norwood was a far cry. A grimy private from whom the visitor 
asked the way answered in the familiar accents of Oxford. Two 
men fresh from battle, and full of keen professional interest, 
were once London shopwalkers. The change was most marked 


in the case of the Scots. The kilt as worn to-day has a somewhat 
formal and modern look, suggestive less of Rob Roy than of the 
Prince Consort. But mark that company of Camerons returning 
from a route march. The historic red tartans are ragged and faded, 
the bonnet has a jaunty air, the men have a long, loping stride. 
They might be their seventeenth-century forbears, slipping on a 
moonlight night through the Lochaber passes. Here is a bat- 
talion from the Borders. The ordinary Borderer in peace time 
looks like anybody else, but these men seem to have suddenly 
remembered their ancestry. They have the lean strength, the 
pale adventurous eye of the old Debateable Land. 

I first saw Ypres from a Httle hill during the later stages of the 
battle. It was a brilliant spring day, and, when there was a 
lull in the bombardment and the sun lit up its white towers, it 
looked a gracious and delicate little city in its cincture of green. 
It was with a sharp shock of surprise that one realized that it was 
an illusion, that Ypres had become a shadow. A few days later, 
in a pause of the bombardment, I entered the town. The main 
street lay white and empty in the sun, and over all reigned a deathly 
stillness. There was not a human being to be seen in all its length, 
and the houses on each side were skeletons. Here the whole 
front had gone, and bedrooms with wrecked furniture were open 
to the light. There a 42-cm. shell had made a breach in the line, 
with raw edges of masonry on both sides, and a yawning pit below. 
In one room the carpet was spattered with plaster from the ceiling, 
but the furniture was unbroken. There was a buhl cabinet with 
china, red plush chairs, a piano, and a gramophone — the plenish- 
ing of the best parlour of a middle-class home. In another room 
was a sewing-machine, from which the owner had fled in the 
midst of a piece of work. Here was a novel with the reader's 
place marked. It was like a city visited by an earthquake which 
had caught the inhabitants unawares, and driven them shivering 
to a place of refuge. Through the gaps in the houses there were 
glimpses of greenery. A broken door admitted to a garden — a 
carefully tended garden, for the grass had once been trimly kept, 
and the owner had a taste in flowers. A little fountain still plashed 
in a stone basin. But in one corner an incendiary shell had fallen 
on the house, and in the heap of charred debris there were human 
remains. Most of the dead had been removed, but there were still 
bodies in out-of-the-way comers. Over all hung a sickening smell 
of decay, against which the Ulacs and hawthorns were powerless. 
That garden was no place to tarry in. 


The street led into the Place, where once stood the great Church 
of St. Martin and the Cloth Hall, Those who knew Ypres before 
the war remember especially the pleasant fa9ade of shops on the 
south side, and the cluster of old Flemish buildings at the north- 
eastern corner. Of the southern side nothing remained but a 
file of gaunt gables. At the north-east corner, if a man crawled 
across the rubble, he could see the remnants of some beautiful 
old mantelpieces. Standing in the middle of the Place, one was 
oppressed by the utter silence, a silence which seemed to hush 
and blanket the eternal shelling in the Salient beyond. Some 
jackdaws were cawing from the ruins, and a painstaking starling 
was rebuilding its nest on a broken pinnacle. An old cow, a mis- 
erable object, was poking her head in the rubbish and sniffing 
curiously at a dead horse. Sound was a profanation in that tomb 
which had once been a city. The Cloth Hall had lost all its arcades 
and most of its front, and there were great rents everywhere. Its 
spire looked like a badly whittled stick, and the big gilt clock, 
with its hands irrevocably fixed, hung loose on a jet of stone. St. 
Martin's Church was a ruin, and its stately square tower was so 
nicked and dinted that it seemed as if a strong wind would topple 
it over. Inside the church was a weird sight. Most of the windows 
had gone, and the famous rose window in the southern transept 
lacked a segment. The side chapels were in ruins, the floor was 
deep in fallen stones, but the pillars still stood. A mass for the 
dead must have been in progress, for the altar was draped in black, 
but the altar stone was cracked across. The sacristy was full 
of vestments and candlesticks tumbled together in haste, and all 
were covered with yellow picric dust from the high explosives. 
In the graveyard behind there was a huge shell crater, fifty 
feet across and twenty feet deep, with human bones exposed 
in the sides. Before the main door stood a curious piece of 
irony. An empty pedestal proclaimed from its four sides the 
many virtues of a certain Belgian statesman who had been also 
mayor of Ypres. The worthy mayor was lying in the dust beside 
it, a fat man in a frock coat, with side-whiskers and a face like 

Out in the sunlight there was the first sign of human life. A 
detachment of French Colonial tirailleurs entered from the north — 
brown, shadowy men in fantastic weather-stained uniforms. A 
vehicle stood at the cathedral door, and a lean and sad-faced priest 
was loading it with some of the church treasures — chalices, plate, 
embroidery. A Carmelite friar was prowling among the side 


alleys looking for the dead. It was like some macabre imagining 
of Victor Hugo. 

Behind the optimism of the British people there had been 
growing up slowly a certain uneasiness about many aspects of 
the conduct of the war. There was no distrust of the generals 
in the field or the admirals on the sea ; still less was there any 
weakening in warlike purpose. But it was gradually becoming 
apparent that the mechanism of national effort was faulty, and 
did insufficient justice to the resolution of the nation. Ever since 
the beginning of the year certain events had compelled thinking 
men to re-examine their views, and certain other events had pro- 
duced in ordinary people that vague disquiet which ends in a 
clamour for change. 

The Second Battle of Ypres, with its heavy casualties, did 
much to foster this feeling. No totals were issued at the time, 
but the endless lists of names published in the press did more to 
unnerve the public mind than any totals. In June the Prime 
Minister announced the casualties in the war by land up to 31st 
May as 258,069, of which 50,342 were dead, 153,980 wounded, 
and 53,747 missing. On 4th February the total had been 104,000, 
with about 10,000 dead. In four months, therefore, without any 
conspicuous success or any battle comparable to First Ypres, we 
had multiplied our losses by 2|, and our dead by five. Then there 
was the Dardanelles affair. Much violent and ill-informed criticism 
in the press and a perpetual tattle in private life had convinced 
many people that a disaster was imminent, and the high hopes of 
the early spring changed to forebodings. Germany's submarine 
campaign was also a source not of depression but of irritation, 
and irritation soon issues in a demand for a more effective 
poUcy. Our losses were indeed trifling as compared with German 
forecasts. On 19th May it was three months since the great 
" blockade " had been instituted, and during that time we had 
lost fifty ships — one-sixth per cent, of those which had arrived at 
or left our ports. In the later weeks Germany had waged war 
against trawlers to improve her average, and in one week no less 
than seventeen trawlers and drifters were sunk. It was relatively 
a small loss, but it was a loss ; it involved many valuable lives ; 
and, above all, we had not succeeded in accounting for any con- 
siderable number of enemy submarines. Then on 7th May came 
the news of the sinking of an unarmed liner, the Lusitania, with 
nearly 1,500 souls. The news threw Germany into transports of 


delight, and roused in Britain and America a deep and abiding 
anger, of which anti-German riots in London and elsewhere were 
the smallest symptoms. It was universally felt that the war had 
taken on a new character. Henceforward for the least well- 
informed it was a strife a ouirance, and the people began to look 
about them to make sure that nothing was left undone. 

During these weeks, too, the limited number who turned their 
minds to economic problems were beginning to be seriously dis- 
quieted. We had conducted the war on a lavish scale, and clearly 
there had been much avoidable waste. The foolish doctrine that 
expenditure was a good thing in itself, since it increased the cir- 
culation of wealth, seemed to have captured the minds of those 
responsible for our outlay. It was clear that we must find out 
of our savings or our capital the better part of a thousand extra 
millions a year, if we were to provide the Government with money 
to meet their current war expenditure and pay other nations for 
our colossal purchases. It was already probable that the debit 
balance against us in our external indebtedness would be not less 
than ;^400,ooo,ooo a year. This could only be reduced by the 
practice by all classes of a rigid economy ; failing which, we should 
be obliged to export gold to balance the account, or see the ex- 
change go heavily against us, and lose our premier position as 
the financial centre of the world. But few in authority empha- 
sized the danger. We spoke and behaved as if our purse were 

More important, because more generally understood, was the 
shortage in munitions — in rifles, in machine guns, in heavy pieces, 
and especially in high-explosive shells. It is to the eternal credit 
of Lord Kitchener that from the start he saw the importance of 
providing and munitioning armies on the grand scale. But there 
were immense difficulties in the way, all of which sprang from 
one tap-root — the fact that the nation had not been methodically 
organized for war, and that so long as it remained unorganized 
we were fighting, whatever our spirit, with one hand tied up. Our 
voluntary recruiting, splendid in its enthusiasm, worked unfairly 
and wastefuUy. Skilled workers in vital industries had been allowed 
to go to the trenches, and others, who would have been good soldiers 
in the firing hue, had been sent back to a work in which they had 
no particular skill. The compulsion of recruiting posters and public 
opinion was drastic, but it was unscientific. Many men in those 
days who still believed in voluntaryism as the system best suited 
to the British temper were driven to modify their views, and to 


accept a form of state compulsion as at any rate the proper 
measure for a crisis. A common basis of agreement between the 
different schools was found in the desire for some kind of national 
registration, which would enable the State to use to the best 
advantage any special powers it might assume. But for the 
moment the chief need seemed to be less men than munitions. 
When France after the Battle of the Marne realized the nature of 
the future war and her lack of shells and heavy guns, she set to 
work at once to supply her deficiencies. Every factory which 
could be turned to the purpose was utilized ; every scrap of talent 
in the nation was called upon ; local committees were formed 
everjnvhere to organize the effort. She had one great advantage 
in her conscript system, which enabled her to produce munitions 
under military law and to bring back her skilled workers from the 
trenches and send the less useful to take their place. In Britain 
the need, not less great and far more difficult to meet, was not 
generally recognized till the February strikes brought the matter 
to a head. Mr. Lloyd George addressed himself to the problem 
with zeal and courage. He spoke the naked truth, though his 
candour was somewhat discounted by the official optimism of 
the press and his colleagues. He fastened upon drink as the chief 
cause of the evil, and announced a drastic policy of prohibition. 
Various eminent people proclaimed their intention of forgoing 
the use of alcohol during the war, but their example was not 
generally followed, and Mr. Lloyd George, under pressure of 
political opinion, was forced to whittle down his scheme into a 
device for a few new taxes, which presently were dropped as mani- 
festly unworkable. Various expedients were tried and relinquished. 
After the British fashion a number of committees were appointed, 
which occupied the time of many able men, and succeeded in 
getting in their own way and in the way of willing manufacturers. 
The national effort was still being directed with something of the 
crudity of earnest amateurs. 

The War Office, indeed, had shown commendable industry. 
Faced with every kind of scientific and industrial hindrance, the 
Ordnance Department in May had arranged for the production 
in three days of the quantity of ammunition usually produced in 
a year. If 20 were taken as an index figure for September 19 14, 
the shell supply by March 1915 had risen to 388. Many thousands 
of new firms had been added to the Government list, and it was 
Lord Kitchener himself who first pressed for the policy of dilution 
of labour. If we must acquit the War Of&ce of inertia, we must 


equally acquit it of obtuseness as to the Army's specific require- 
ments. That before August 1914 the obvious lesson of the Balkan 
War had not been learned and provision made to equip field 
guns with high explosives as well as shrapnel, must be set down 
to the blame of the then Chief of the Imperial General Staff. 
At the outset of the fighting it was only the strong repre- 
sentations of the Ordnance Department at home that induced the 
British command in the field to permit a proportion of high- 
explosive shells. Early in November, when the need became 
clamorous. General Headquarters asked for 50 per cent, shrapnel 
and 50 per cent, high-explosive, but a week later they asked that 
the percentage of the latter should be reduced to 25. When the 
command in the field spoke with so uncertain a voice it was difficult 
for the War Office to frame its plans ; and in any case there were 
insuperable technical difficulties in the way of switching factories 
instantaneously from one class of shell to the other. During those 
months the War Office laid the foundation of that great production 
which began to bear fruit in the autumn of 1915 and lasted till the 
spring of the following year, and the credit for which was unjustly 
given by the ordinary man to the new Ministry of Munitions. 

But aU its labours were inadequate, for demand continued 
to race ahead of supply. By 15th May 481,000 i8-pounder shells 
should have been issued to the Army, instead of which it received 
less than one-tenth of that number. On 20th April the Prime 
Minister made a speech at Newcastle in which occurred this pas- 
sage : "I saw a statement the other day that the operations of 
war, not only of our Army but of our Allies, were being crippled, 
or at any rate hampered, by our failure to provide the necessary 
ammunition. There is not a word of truth in that statement. 
I say there is not a word of truth in that statement, which is the 
more mischievous because, if it was believed, it is calculated to 
dishearten our troops, to discourage our Allies, and to stimulate 
the hopes and activities of our enemies." Mr. Asquith spoke at a 
delicate moment ; large operations were impending, and it was 
important not to allow the enemy to be encouraged or our Allies 
to be dispirited. Sir John French had assured Kitchener that he 
had all the ammunition he needed for his next forward movement, 
and the Secretary for War passed the information on to the Prime 
Minister before his speech.* Nevertheless Mr. Asquith was gravely 

* It is needless here to enter into the controversy raised by Lord French in his 
1914. Many of the statements are obviously so inaccurate, and the author seems 
to have changed his views with such mercurial soeed, that this part of the book is 
worthless as evidence. 


misinformed, for, though supplies might equal immediate needs 
on Sir John French's and Kitchener's calculation, in the larger 
sense there was a deplorable deficiency. Presently came dramatic 
proof of this truth. Two days after the Prime Minister's speech 
the struggle began in the Ypres Salient. We were almost without 
heavy artillery, and what we had was very short of shells. The 
Germans had a great number of heavy guns in action, and endless 
munitions. We beat off the attack in the end, but with a terrible 
sacrifice, and the lives of our soldiers were the price we paid for 
our deficiency in high explosives. Again, on Sunday, 9th May, 
we made an attack from Fromelles against the Aubers ridge. Our 
artillery preparation was necessarily inadequate, our men were 
held up by unbroken wire and parapets, and the result was failure 
and heavy losses. The lesson was writ too plain to be misread. 
We must pay either in shells or in human lives. 

The public uneasiness was accompanied by the clamour of a 
section of the press, and this clamour continued to the end of 
the war. Certain popular newspapers presently took the part of 
the eighteenth-century mob, a part which would otherwise have 
remained unfilled, since the manhood of Britain was too busily 
engaged for agitation. Like the old mobs they were sincerely 
patriotic and imperfectly informed ; they conceived violent ad- 
mirations and violent dislikes ; they were often sound in principle 
and wrong on the facts, sometimes correct on the facts and false 
in their deductions, rarely right in both ; like the old mobs, too, 
when things went wrong they hunted perseveringly for scape- 
goats. They underestimated the complexity of government and 
hugely overrated their own infalhbility ; but on the whole they 
did little harm to the national cause, though often they wrought 
gross injustice on individuals. On this occasion they claimed that 
they compelled a change in Mr. Asquith's policy, and Sir John 
French has taken credit for himself inspiring the agitation to 
this end. 

The claim can only be admitted with reservations. The press 
undoubtedly expedited the formation of the Ministry of Munitions 
by sharpening the popular anxiety about the shells and guns 
sent to the armies in France. Its attacks upon Lord Kitchener 
failed utterly, and established him more firmly in the confi- 
dence of his countrymen ; and the changes in the Ministry, 
presently to be recounted, had little to do with newspaper 
criticism. Their principal cause was the very general feeling 
that a partisan Government was not the proper machinery with 


which to conduct a war. The Liberal Government had for years 
been sinking in esteem ; its loudly proclaimed principles had 
come to seem to many vapid and jejune, and its adroit oppor- 
tunism no longer impressed. In the stern realities of war what 
place was there for the gift of manipulating caucuses and making 
deft speeches ? The one thing needful was high administrative 
talent, and this for long had been at a discount. What led a 
politician tg fame had been skill in debate and rhetoric ; even if he 
possessed executive gifts and did well by his department, he got 
less thanks for the work than for a hectic platform campaign which 
did service to his party. Now all these pleasing gifts were dis- 
counted. It was unfair to blame politicians for not possessing 
what they had never claimed to possess, for not cultivating a 
thankless administrative efficiency in a world where the prizes 
fell to him who could tinkle most loudly the party cymbal. But 
the nation had now become conscious that its Government did not- 
represent the best available talent for the task, since too many of its 
members were irrelevant legacies from a world that had passed away. 
Early in May a Unionist private member gave notice of a 
motion which was virtually one of no confidence. Mr. Bonar 
Law and the other Opposition leaders, reading rightly the temper 
of the people, interviewed the Prime Minister and demanded a 
reconstruction of the Ministry ; and Mr. Asquith, also correctly 
diagnosing the situation, consented. He had no choice, for to 
let things remain as they were would have meant a speedy fall 
from power. There were other reasons why it was necessary to 
re-form the Government on a broader basis. Various members 
had made themselves highly unpopular by their speeches or deeds. 
With the injustice of those who have been grievously surprised, 
many laid the blame of the war upon Lord Haldane, merely 
because he had conspicuously laboured to prevent it. It was an 
ironic fate which vented popular chagrin upon the Minister who, 
of all others, had done most for the British army. If he was misled 
by Germany, he erred in company with almost the whole nation, 
and at any rate he had provided an Expeditionary Force, a General 
Staff, and a valuable Territorial levy. The root of his offending 
in the eyes of his critics was that he owed much to German 
literature and philosophy, and had had the generosity to acknow- 
ledge his debt. Mr. Churchill, too, was beginning to be widely 
distrusted, partly for the Antwerp venture, partly for the Dar- 
danelles campaign, of which he was believed to be the chief 
begetter, and largely because of the atmosphere of hazard and irre- 


sponsibility with which his personality had come to be surrounded. 
His ardent spirit, his courage, and his quick, if not always judicial, 
intelligence predisposed him to take grave risks and afforded endless 
material for his enemies ; for in easy-going ministerial circles he 
moved like a panther among seals. Lord Fisher, the First Sea 
Lord, had long been chafing at the blindness of the Government 
to the merits of his North Sea projects, and was thoroughly out 
of temper with the whole Dardanelles policy. On 15th May he 
resigned, and his resignation brought matters to a crisis. It was 
clear that in popular opinion Mr. Churchill was now impossible 
at the Admiralty. There were no alternatives before the Govern- 
ment except to go out of office or to reconstruct on a broader basis. 

On rgth May the Prime Minister announced the formation of 
a National Ministry. It would have come with a better grace 
eight months earlier ; but Ministers are human, and so long as 
things seem to be going well they are anxious to keep the credit 
for themselves. It is only responsibihty, when it looks as if it 
may be heavy, that they are ready to share. Now that the smooth 
self-confidence of the early days had gone, they were anxious to 
make all parties liable for the conduct of the war, and this, rather 
than a resolve to mobilize the best talent in the country, seems to 
have been the immediate motive of the change. Sir Edward Grey 
and Lord Kitchener of course remained at their posts ; in them 
the country had the fullest confidence. Mr. Churchill was given 
the Duchy of Lancaster, so that his great abilities were not lost to 
the Cabinet councils. The new Ministers were still untried in the 
conduct of war, but they were new, and the popular mind could 
therefore regard them hopefully. Lord Lansdowne brought to the 
common stock a unique administrative experience, Mr. Austen 
Chamberlain his financial knowledge, Mr. Bonar Law a reputa- 
tion for business talents, and Lord Curzon a remarkable intelli- 
gence and untiring energy. By the appointment of Lord Robert 
Cecil to the Under-Secretar>'ship of Foreign Affairs the Ministry 
was strengthened by a man of first-rate ability and courage. Mr. 
Balfour, the greatest pure intellect which our time has seen in the 
profession of politics, went to the Admiralty. 

The reconstruction of the Government awakened Httle interest 
among the people at large. The old political game was out of 
fashion, and the bitter cry of the wire-pullers passed unheeded. 
This popular apathy was unfortunate, for in a war of peoples the 
true centre of gravity is not in any naval or military command 
but in the civilian Cabinet at home. The one vital fact to most 


men was the creation of a new department, a Ministry of Muni- 
tions, which should take over all the responsibility for materiel 
which had fallen upon the Secretary for War, and should also 
assume some of the powers hitherto belonging to other depart- 
ments. The selection of Mr. Lloyd George for the post was 
generally approved. His imagination, his zeal, and the serious- 
ness with which he faced the war, had profoundly impressed 
his countrymen. He had not only the power of kindling enthu- 
siasm by his eloquence, but he had the courage to speak plain 
truths to his quondam supporters. He did not despair of the 
republic, and he had the intellectual honesty to jettison old 
prejudices and look squarely at facts. As an administrator 
he was indeed of small account, touching little of detail that he 
did not confuse, but it was believed that he might inspire more 
competent hands and more orderly minds. The Coalition had 
also the useful result that it demobilized the respective caucuses 
and allowed criticism greater liberty. Henceforward there was no 
obligation upon a Liberal to spare the Ministry from party loyalty 
or a Unionist from motives of good taste. The Government was 
now the whole people's to applaud or censure. 

A review of political accidents is apt to leave a false impression 
of the temper of a nation. At this juncture the British people 
were a little dashed in spirits, but there was no serious pessimism, 
and there was certainly no weakening. It was instructive to 
remember the history of the war with Napoleon, and to reflect 
how many of the best brains then in England were out of 
sympathy with the national cause. In this struggle we had no 
Fox or Sheridan to lavish praise upon the enemy and lament in 
secret a British victory. The working classes and their ofhcial 
spokesmen were most earnest and practical in their determination 
to carry the war to the end, and many a man who had imagined 
that he was a cosmopolitan discovered that he was a patriot. 
Such slender opposition as there was came from that class whom we 
call intellectuals because of the limitations of their intellect. There 
were the honest opponents of all war, who imagined that by saying 
that a thing was horrible often enough and loud enough they could 
get rid of it. Paradoxical litterateurs secured a brief moment 
in the limelight by foolish utterances. There were protests from 
men who, physically unwholesome, felt that pain was the worst 
of all evils, and from those who, having no creed or faith, and 
staking everything upon the present world, regarded loss of life 
as the ultimate calamity. One or two amiable sentimentalists pro- 


claimed that we must not humiliate Germany, apparently under 
the delusion that you may make of a barbarian a good citizen if you 
avoid hurting his feehngs. A few political declasses attempted to 
redeem their insignificance by venting their spite on their country. 
But the opposition was as feeble as in Burke's famous metaphor : 
" Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field 
ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, 
reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and 
are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise 
are the only inhabitants of the field ; that, of course, they are 
many in number ; or that, after all, they aie other than the little, 
shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome, insects 
of the hour." 



April ^-June 17. 

Germany's Summer Strategy — The French in Alsace and Lorraine — ^The French 
Advance in Artois — The British Attack at Festubert — The Summer's Stag- 
nation — The War in the Air. 

By the end of March the German Command had reached two im- 
portant conclusions : that their forces in the West, though con- 
siderably outnumbered by the enemy, were competent to hold that 
front against any Allied attack ; and that an effort must be made 
at once to bring about a decision against Russia. The desperate 
position of Austria, and the likeUhood that in the near future Italy 
and Rumania might be added to the roll of their antagonists, forced 
the necessity of an immediate concentration of effort in the East 
upon the mind not only of Hindenburg, who believed that the war 
could be won on that front, but of Falkenhayn, who considered 
the West to be the crucial theatre. The issue proved that Germany 
had judged more shrewdly than the Allied Staffs. She alone was 
fully awake to the precise nature of the war in its present phase. 
All through the winter, when Britain was speculating how long 
German stores of food and explosives would last, she had been 
busy preparing her armoury. She found substitutes for materials 
which she had formerly imported, and the whole talent of her 
chemists was drawn upon for the purpose. All the human strength 
of the nation, which was not in the field, was employed directly 
or indirectly to make munitions. Women and girls and old men 
took their places in the armament factories. Early in the year 
Falkenhayn satisfied himself that for the next twelve months 
he would have no anxiety on this score. When we remember that 
she supplied 900 miles of front (with some assistance from Austria) 
in the East, more than 500 miles in the West, and equipped Turkey 



for the Dardanelles campaign, and that her use of shells was five 
or six times more lavish than that of her opponents, we may get 
some notion of the magnitude of the national effort. It was more 
impressive in its way than the muster of her great armies in August. 
She had created a machine with which she believed she coald 
destroy one enemy and in the meantime keep the other at a distance. 
Her losses had been heavy, for she was tied to a military theory 
which demanded a lavish sacrifice of men ; but apart from that 
she was saving of life. She believed that her machine could keep 
the enemy at long range on the West till such time as she could 
turn and deal with him. She had no illusions about the Allied 
offensive, or, if she had, it was in the direction of under-estimating 
it. She knew, or thought she knew, that no weight of men could 
break her front till the Allies had created a machine as strong 
as her own. She therefore disregarded the West, and swung the 
bulk of her new strength and the chief weight of her artillery against 
Russia — the unreadiest of her foes — leaving in France and Flanders 
only sufficient weight of men and guns to hold the line in a long- 
range contest. 

It was a bold decision, for she took many risks. But its bold- 
ness miust not be exaggerated. Her force in the West, though 
numerically smaller than the AUied armies, was better equipped 
with artillery and far better provided with shells. It contained 
a high proportion of seasoned regulars, and the fresh divisions which 
she now formed were a skilful blending of old and new, of experienced 
and fresh battalions. The fourteen new divisions now in training 
behind the Western front were the pick of the German army. 
They were strictly " divisions of assault," a spearhead to be used 
where the chief danger threatened. One disadvantage, indeed, 
was beginning to show itself. She had lost terribly in her officer 
class — perhaps half its effectives ; and since that class was also 
a caste, it was difficult to fill the gaps without a violent break 
with her whole service tradition. But the gaps must be filled, 
and accordingly there appeared a new type of officer, created, 
so to speak, for the war only, an officer on probation, and with 
limited privileges. Now the German officer had his drawbacks, 
but for the purposes of the German theory of war he was highly 
efficient. His vigour, his ruthlessness, his mechanical perfection, 
his professional zeal, were all invaluable. The new type might be 
a better and abler man, but he did not fit in so well with the 
machine, and where the machine is everything no part of it can 
safely be out of gear. 


An Allied offensive in the spring and summer had been decided 
upon as early as November 19 14. Its primary reason was to be 
found in the psychology of the French nation. They had shattered 
the first German plan at the Marne and the second in Flanders, 
and yet much of the soil of France was in the hand of the invader. 
No high-spirited people could sit down to a slow defensive war 
while such an outrage continued. Joffre was as inevitably driven 
to an offensive by the temper of his countrymen as the British navy 
would have been compelled by popular opinion to bring to battle 
any enemy fleet that ventured out to the high seas. On the military 
side it was essential that an attempt should be made to relieve the 
pressure on Russia, and to assure Italy, when she entered the alli- 
ance, of the vigour and resolution of her colleagues. It was true 
that the new armies of Britain were not ready, and that the muni- 
tionment everywhere fell short of what was required. But both 
Joffre and Sir John French believed that, even so, they had the 
power to break the enemy front and force a retirement. They con- 
ceived that what had been done on a small scale at Neuve Chapelle 
could be repeated at more vital points with deadly consequences. 
They gravely under-estimated their enemy as regarded his disci- 
pline, his tenacity, and the power of his artillery ; they had not 
grasped the strength of a defence in depth or realized of what 
slender value were small breaches in his Une and at what a high 
price to themselves they would be effected. The result was a 
series of costly and futile attacks which continued through the 
summer, attacks based on a mistaken principle, delivered on 
various sections of a long front, but radically unco-ordinated. 
They did nothing to relieve the distress of Russia, and Germany 
was able to repel them without departing by a hairbreadth from 
the plan of campaign she had devised in March — a remarkable 
achievement for which she deserved the utmost credit, and a 
conspicuous example of the value of a unified over a disjointed 

The main attack was preceded by various lesser enterprises 
undertaken b}' Dubail's group on the right wing.* In Alsace there 
was bound to be continual bickering on the crests and in the passes, 
and in March and April there was a prolonged struggle for Hart- 

* The front was now under three group commands — Dubail from Verdun to 
Belfort, Castelnau from Verdun to Compi^gne, and Foch from Compi^gne to the 
North Sea. There had been various changes in the army commands ; Petain suc- 
ceeded Castelnau with the Seventh Army, Putz succeeded D'Urbal with the Eighth 
Army, and D'Urbal took over the Tenth from Maud'huy, who went to the First Army 
in the Vosges. 

1915] LES EPARGES. 73 

mannsweilerkopf, that spur of the Molkenrain massif which domi- 
nates the junction of the 111 and the Thur. The summit was lost, 
taken, and lost again, till the little peak became a comic feature 
in official communiques. There was also a steady pressure, mainly 
by the Chasseurs Alpins, down the upper reaches of the Fecht, 
towards Metzeral, in the effort to reach Colmar and the lateral 
railway which served the German front in the Alsatian plains. 
More important than this hill-fighting was the attempt made 
during April to cut off the St. Mihiel salient. Dubail's aim was 
not to attack the wedge at its point, where the guns of the 
Camp des Romains made a strong defence possible, but to squeeze 
it thin by pressing in the sides, and ultimately dominating the 
communications of the St. Mihiel apex. At the beginning of April 
the north-western side of the German salient ran from Etain 
in the north by Fresnes across the Les Eparges heights, then 
by Lamorville and Spada to St. Mihiel. The south-eastern side 
ran from St. Mihiel by the Camp des Romains, the Bois d'Ailly, 
Apremont, Boudonville, Regnieville, to the Moselle, three miles 
north of Pont-a-Mousson. Obviously the important point was the 
Les Eparges plateau, which commanded much of the northern 
interior of the salient, and the possession of which was the pre- 
liminary to an attack upon the vital position of Vigneulles. Opera- 
tions during February and March had given the French the village 
of Les Eparges and part of the north-western slopes, but they were 
still a long way from the crest, and their advance was terribly ex- 
posed, since every movement was obvious to the enemy on the 
upper ground. The great attack on the position began on 5th 
April, about four o'clock in the afternoon. It was raining heavily, 
and the whole hillside was one mass of mud seamed by the channels 
of swollen springs. A considerable piece of ground was won, but 
when the Germans counter-attacked early next morning the French 
were unable to maintain their position. For three days there was 
severe fighting, which culminated on the evening of 9th April in 
the winning of the crest of the ridge. 

For a moment it seemed that the St. Mihiel salient would pres- 
ently be squeezed so thin that it would cease to be, and that the 
line of Strantz's army would fall back to those uplands west of 
Metz which contained the fields of Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte. 
To the world it appeared that this was the first step in a great move- 
ment into Lorraine which would strike a deadly blow against the 
German left. The soldiers of France were eager to meet the enemy 
on that very ground where, forty-five years before, Bazaine and 


MacMahon had led them to defeat. Moreover, to outside observers, 
it looked as if the southern front offered the best chance for 
that manoeuvre battle which was impossible in the congested north. 
But if such a policy was ever entertained, it was abandoned by the 
beginning of May. The seriousness of the movement against 
Russia had by that time revealed itself. Something must be done 
to relieve the fierce pressure upon our Eastern Allies, and it must 
be attempted in the theatre which promised the speediest results. 
A movement upon Lorraine and Alsace, however successful, would 
be slow. It would entail the attack of great fortresses, and it 
would not strike at any vital communications. At the best it 
would threaten the hill country of Baden and Wiirtemberg, an 
area far removed from the heart of Germany. It was incumbent 
upon Joffre to develop a strategy which would distract the enemy 
from the Eastern front by putting some more vital interest in 
jeopardy. One section was marked out above all others for such 
a venture. If the Tenth Army in Artois could advance over the 
plain of the Scheldt towards Douai and Valenciennes, the com- 
munications of the whole of the German front from Lille to Soissons 
would be in instant peril, and a wholesale retreat would be impera- 
tive. Elsewhere a blow might be struck at the local communica- 
tions of one army, but here a blow was possible against the lines 
of supply of three armies. The history of the Allied summer 
offensive is, therefore, the history of the thrust of the French 
towards Lens and of the British towards Lille. The centre of 
interest passes from the armies of Dubail to the armies of Foch. 

To follow the fighting in Artois we must note with care 
the nature of the country between Arras and La Bassee. The 
downs which bound on the south the valley of the Scarpe are con- 
tinued on the north by a low tableland which falls in long ridges 
to the valley of the Lys and the flat country around Lens. This 
chalky plateau is full of hollows, most of which have their hamlets. 
Its highest part is known as the ridge of Notre-Dame de Lorette, 
which runs west and east, and is scored by many ravines. In the 
glen south of it lay the village of Ablain St. Nazaire, and across 
the next ridge the village of Carency. Then came a broad hollow, 
with the Bois de Berthonval in the centre, till the ground rose again 
at Mont St. Eloi. North of the Lorette ridge was the plain of the 
Lys. East of it the ground sloped in spurs of an easy gradient to 
the trough where ran the main road from Bethune to Arras, with 
the villages of Souchez and La Targette on the wayside. Farther 
east it rose again to the low heights of Vimy, beyond which ran the 


Arras-Lens road. The country was in type like an outlying part 
of the Santerre— hedgcless fields cut by many white roads, with 
endless possibiUties of defence in the ravines and villages. The 
Lorette ridge was a bare scarp, but its sides were patched with 
coppices which clustered thickly in the gullies. 

At the beginning of May the German Unes in this area formed a 
sharp salient. They extended from east of Loos, across the Lens- 
Bethune road, east of Aix-Noulette, and reached the Lorette plateau 
well to the west of its highest spur, where stood the Chapel of Our 
Lady. They covered Ablain, which was the extreme point of the 
salient, and Carency. They then curved sharply back east of the 
Bois de Berthonval, covering La Targette and the Bethune-Arras 
road. This last section of their front was known by the French 
as the WTiite Works, because of the colour of the parapets cut from 
the chalk. The village of Ecurie was inside their hne, which there- 
after fell back to the east of Arras. The meaning of this salient 
was the protection of Lens, which was the key of the upper plain 
of the Scheldt, and the flat country towards Douai and Valenciennes. 
Once they were driven off the high ground, their hold on Lens would 
be endangered, and the railway which ran behind this front would 
be useless. During the early months of the year the French had 
been nibbling at the positions on the Lorette plateau, and had won 
considerable ground. During the first week of May a huge weight 
of artillery was concentrated, not less than i,ioo guns of different 
types, and Foch, the commander of the army group, took personal 
charge of the operations. The German force opposed was cer- 
tainly outnumbered by the French, and probably outgunned ; 
but it had the advantage of holding one of the strongest positions 
on either the Western or Eastern front. We may describe its Una 
as consisting of a number of almost impregnable fortresses, armed 
with machine guns, and linked together by an intricate system of 
trenches. Between Ablain and Lens there were at least five series 
of trench lines prepared, each with its fortius, which would enfilade 
an enemy advance. 

On Sunday, gth May, in clear weather, the French began their 
artillery preparation, in the section between La Targette and 
Carency. That bombardment was the most wonderful yet seen 
in Western Europe, and may be compared with the attack which 
Mackensen was at the same time conducting in Galicia. It ate 
up the countryside for miles. Parapets and entanglements were 
blown to pieces, and all that remained was a ploughed land and 
fragments of wire and humanity. For hours the great guns spoke 


with the rapidity of maxims, and more than 300,000 shells were 
fired in the course of the day. About ten in the morning the 
infantry were let loose. On the right they took what remained of 
La Targette, and with it the vital cross-roads. East of it, in the 
hollow below the Vimy heights, lay the village of Neuville St. 
Vaast, with its big church. By noon the French had taken the west 
part of it, and by three o'clock they were attacking the church. 
The whole place bristled with machine guns, and the battle was 
waged from house to house and from cellar to cellar. Farther north, 
the centre moved from the trenches in the Bois de Berthonval, 
and swept like a flood over what had once been the Wliite Works. 
They poured on beyond the Arras-Bethune road, and in an hour 
and a half had won more than two and a half miles — the most 
conspicuous advance made in the West since the war of trenches 
began. Like Jeb Stuart's troopers in Virginia, they plucked sprigs 
of lilac and hawthorn and stuck them in their caps as they surged 
onward. Had the whole line been able to confonn to the pace 
of the centre, Lens might have fallen in a day. But meanwhile 
the left was battling hard for Carency. Here progress was slower, 
owing to the endless ravines and nooks of hill. The first move- 
ment carried it into the outskirts of the village, whence it pushed 
east, and cut the road from Carency to Souchez. The siege of 
Carency had begun, for the only communication of the German 
garrison was now with Ablain and the north. When darkness 
fell the French had, on a front of five miles, carried three German 
trench lines. 

Next day, the loth, the battle spread farther north. After a 
hard fight the French carried all the German entrenchments across 
the Loos-Bethune road. Farther south they attacked the fortified 
chapel of Notre-Dame de Lorette, and captured the trenches south 
of it, which connected with Ablain and Souchez. On the right they 
took the cemetery of Neuville St. Vaast, and repulsed the German 
reserves which came up in motor cars from Lens and Donai. All 
this was preparatory to the great assault of the following day. 
That day, the nth, saw the beginning of the end of Carency. The 
ruins of the town, into which 20,000 shells had fallen, were sur- 
rounded on west, south, and east. It was slow and desperate 
work, for the Germans had turned every available place into a 
fortin, and each had to be separately carried. On Wednesday, the 
I2th, about 5.30 in the afternoon, the German remnants in Carency 
surrendered. That same day the summit of Notre-Dame de Lorette 
fell, with its fort and chapel, and, late in the afternoon, Ablain, 


now in flames, followed suit, though one or two strongholds still 
held out. The whole of the high ground west of Souchez was now 
in French hands, with the exception of a few German strong points 
on its eastern ridges. 

On Thursday, 13th May, the weather changed to a north wind 
and drenching rain. The French attack was now mainly directed 
on Souchez, Angres, and Neuville St. Vaast. The situation was 
peculiar. In a sense the German line had been broken. In the 
direction of the Vimy heights all the trenches had been carried, 
and the way seemed open for a passage. What had happened was 
that instead of bending back when attacked and maintaining its 
cohesion, the German front had become a series of isolated forts, 
Hke drops of mercury spilled on a table. The most notable of these 
were the sugar refinery at Souchez, the cemetery at Ablain, the 
White Road on one of the Lorette spurs, the eastern part of Neuville 
St. Vaast, and especially the place called the Labyrinth, between 
Neuville and Ecurie, where the Germans had constructed an ex- 
traordinary network of trenches and redoubts in the angle between 
two roads. These foriins were manned by numerous machine guns, 
in some cases worked only by officers. They were so placed that it 
was difficult for long-range fire to destroy them, and until they were 
cleared out any advance was enfiladed. The battle, therefore, 
resolved itself into a series of isolated actions against forts. On 
2ist May the White Road was taken, on 29th May the Ablain 
position fell, on the 31st the Souchez refinery was captured, though 
it changed hands several times before it finally fell to the French. 
Eight days later Neuville St. Vaast was wholly in their hands. 
But as one fortin fell another revealed itself. The Labyrinth 
especially was a difficult business, where the fighting was desperate 
and continuous, and a day's progress had to be reckoned in feet. 
There the German burrows were sometimes fifty feet deep, and the 
struggle went on in underground galleries by the light of electric 
torches and flares — a miners' warfare hke Marlborough's siege of 

By the end of May the French Battle of Artois had virtually 
closed. It had been a triumph for the fighting quality of the French 
infantry, and not less of the French gunners. But as a strategic 
movement it had failed. Much ground had been won at a terrible 
cost, but the enemy still held the ridges that commanded Lens. 
The marvellous artillery preparation had flattened and sterilized 
the landscape, but it had not overcome the enemy defence in depth. 
Strangely enough, even so good a soldier as Foch did not make the 


true deduction, and the underestimate of the German defence system 
was to continue for the better part of three years. 

The British advance in May in the Festubert region was in- 
tended mainly as an auxiUary to the French effort in Artois. 
It was designed in the first place to detain the German forces 
opposite in position, and to prevent reinforcements in men and 
guns being sent south to Lens. But it had also a positive if sub- 
sidiary purpose. If successful, it would win the Aubers ridge, for 
the sake of which we had fought Neuve Chapelle, and so threaten 
Lille and La Bassee, and if the French got to Lens we should be in 
a position to conform effectively to their advance. 

The first movement took place on the morning of Sunday, 9th 
May, and the section selected was that between Festubert and Bois 
Grenier. On the right, part of the ist Corps and the Indian Corps 
advanced from the Rue du Bois in the direction of that old battle- 
ground, the southern end of the Bois du Biez. But the main 
attack was delivered by the 8th Division, from Rouges Bancs, on 
the upper course of the river Des Layes, towards Fromelles and the 
northern part of the Aubers ridge. The artillerj^ preparation which 
preceded it was inadequate, and our men came up against unbroken 
wire and parapets. Some ground was won, but the gains could 
not be held, and by the evening we had made little progress. 
The next advance was on the morning of Sunday, i6th May, and 
the ground chosen was that immediately east of Festubert, where 
the German front showed a pronounced salient. The Battle of 
Festubert, as it may well be called, would in other wars, looking 
at the casualties and the numbers engaged, have been a major 
action, but in this campaign is ranked only as an episode — one 
link in the long-drawn chain of the Allied attack. Our artillery 
preparation began late on the Saturday night, assisted by three 
groups of French 75-mm. guns, and just after dawn the infantry 
advanced. The movement was entrusted to two brigades of the 
7th Division, and part of the 2nd Division and the Indian Corps. 
The latter attacked on the left near Richebourg I'Avoue ; the 20th 
Brigade moved from the Rue du Bois south-eastward ; while the 
22nd Brigade on the right advanced to the south-east of Festubert 
against the Rue d'Ouvert. The left of the movement was held up 
by a tangle of fortified farms. The 2nd Division captured two 
lines of trenches, but the Indian Corps found progress impossible. 
The centre, advancing from the Rue du Bois, made good progress 
till it was checked by a severe flanking fire. Reinforcements 

IN ARTOIS, 1816. 



HO«A^MAO 0Vl^f?«'ia 3HT 
.cl8f ,8!0^ ' 

,j^.(i a-wnv 


1915] FESTUBERT. 79 

enabled it to proceed, and it reached a point to the north-west 
of La Quinque Rue. The most successful operation was that of 
our right, the 22nd Brigade, which advanced for more than a 
mile. The German trenches at this point were curiously com- 
pHcated, and we reached what was their main communication 
trench near the Rue d'Ouvert. The country was dead flat and 
seamed with watercourses, and it was not easy to find the 
points indicated by our air reconnaissance. The enemy at- 
tempted to make a barrage of fire behind us, so that it was a 
perilous business to get up reserves of men and ammunition. 

Rain fell on the following day, and this and the marshy character 
of the ground to some extent nullified the effect of the German 
cannonade, for shells often sank into the earth without bursting. 
For three days we fought for the German communication trench, 
and endeavoured to disentangle our left from the network of Ger- 
man fortins. On the Monday evening a second advance was made 
on the right, this time by means of the 21st Brigade. In this fight 
the farthest point was reached by the 4th Cameron Highlanders, a 
Territorial battalion recruited largely from Skye and the Outer 
Islands. Their advance began at 7.30 p.m., and presently they 
found themselves faced by a deep ditch which could not be jumped. 
It was Sedgemoor over again ; the appearance of an unex- 
pected stream threw out a whole movement. Many of the men 
swam it, and one company reached the farthest German communi- 
cation trench. Here its flanks were in the air ; it had no bombs ; 
reinforcements could not reach it ; while the Germans were closing 
in on both sides and " watering " the whole hinterland with their 
fire. In the small hours a retirement was ordered — no light task, 
for the parapet was high, and there were no communication trenches 
(since the trench was itself a communication trench). The bat- 
talion was reduced to half its strength when, worn-out and mud- 
covered, it regained the British position. 

By this time it was clear that the operation could not succeed. 
Ground had been won, but we were still far short of any real strategic 
point, and the losses had been out of all proportion to the gains. 
The fighting continued up till the 26th May, on which day Sir John 
French ordered Haig to curtail the artillery attacks and consolidate 
his position. The British Commander-in-Chief thus summed up 
the results : " Since i6th May the First Army has pierced the 
enemy's line on a total front of four miles. The entire first-line 
system of trenches has been captured on a front of 3,200 yards, and 
on the remaining portion the first and second lines of trenches 


are in our possession." This epitome is the best comment on 
the Alhes' failure. 

Meanwhile, as May passed into June, there came news from the 
East of unvarying calamity. The first counter-movement in the 
West on Russia's behalf had done little to aid her ; was it not the 
duty of France and Britain to attempt another ? Their civilian 
peoples looked for it ; the soldiers on the Western front expected 
it daily. The Russian press asked what the Allies were doing, 
and we may believe that the heroic armies of Russia turned their 
eyes wearily westward in the hope that France and Britain would 
soon reap the fruit of their sacrifice. 

There were two reasons against such a step — one of policy and 
one of fact. In a boy's game, when one member of a side is hard 
pressed, it is right for others of his side to attempt a counter- 
pressure on their opponents. That is the ritual of all sports where 
the players are organized in teams. But the game of war is played 
under grimmer rules. Its object is victory at any cost ; and it may 
be necessary to permit the continued and desperate harassing of 
one section, perhaps even its destruction, in order to secure the 
greater end. Thermopylae was fought by Leonidas and his Spartans 
for reasons of sound strategy. Had the Greeks refused the sacri- 
fice and made an abortive attempt at relief, they would have been 
crushed somewhere on the Locrian coast, and the world would not 
have heard of Salamis and Plataea. Hence the time when one ally 
is hard pressed may be the time for the others to hold their hands. 
If the enemy is triumphant in one section he will be able to send 
relief to another section which is in difficulties. Provided the ally 
who receives the onslaught is really capable of supporting it, it may 
be wiser to let the enemy expend his strength in that quarter. It 
is a cold-blooded policy, but it may be justified by the higher 
interests of the whole alliance. The time for the armies not yet 
attacked to hurl themselves into the fray may be not when the 
enemy is succeeding elsewhere, but when he is failing, when he 
has exhausted his impetus, and is beginning to yield to counter- 
attacks. For then the wedges will be driven in on both sides of the 
tree, and its fall will be the speedier. 

Such was the strategic justification, on the value of which 
opinion may reasonably differ. But there was a reason of fact for 
the apparent supineness in the West, an argument to which there 
was no answer. The Allies were not able to make a really effective 
diversion. Although their numbers were greater than the Ger- 

1915] THE "MACHINE." 81 

mans, they were still behind them in machine guns, heavy pieces, 
and stores of shell. Against an enemy so firmly entrenched and 
so amply equipped mere numbers availed little. The advance of 
the Allies at Festubert and in Artois had convinced them of two 
facts. One was that to hurl infantry against German entrench- 
ments without a very complete artillery preparation was a 
senseless waste of life. The other was that it did little good to 
pierce the enemy's line on a narrow front. To drive in a thin wedge 
meant no more than that a dangerous salient was thereby created, 
and Ypres had disillusioned them on the subject of salients. Even 
to break the hostile line for five miles, as in Artois, was not enough. 
Mackensen on the Donajetz had shattered a front of forty miles, 
and they needed some space like that if they were to manoeuvre in 
the gap. A rent on a great scale would prevent the enemy con- 
centrating his artillery in a sufficient number of fortins to bar their 
advance. It would be a wound which he could not staunch in 
time. To achieve it they required a far greater artillery machine. 
It need not be more powerful than the enemy's ; it need not be as 
powerful ; but it must be powerful enough to permit of a concentra- 
tion on a front not of half a dozen miles, like their past efforts, but 
of twenty, thirty, forty. Until they possessed this complement 
their diversions could achieve nothing of substance to themselves 
or their Eastern Allies. Could they have torn a wide rent in the 
Western front, pushed their cavalry through, and harried vital 
communications, then indeed they might have brought great 
armies hurrying back from the Vistula. But to drive in tiny wedges 
could have no effect on the death-grapple in the East, any more than 
to beat a bull-dog with a light cane will make him slacken his grip. 
To attempt an abortive offensive would be to play Germany's game. 
She wished the Western Allies to keep hurling themselves against 
her artillery bulwarks, and break themselves in the process, for 
she believed that thereby they would weaken and lose heart. The 
path of wisdom for the Allies was identical in both East and West. 
It was their business to avoid exposing themselves to the full blast 
of the German machine till they had secured a machine of their 
own. They must retire, or fight a holding and delaying battle. 
The long sword of the AlHes was not ready, and they had to keep 
their armies intact till it came. 

The story of this summer in the West is, therefore, a chronicle 
of small things — small attacks followed by small counter-attacks, 
or local struggles for strong points where a week's advance was 
measured in yards. There was fighting in the Ypres Salient and at 


Givenchy. In Artois the movement against Lens degenerated into 
a nightmare of subterranean struggles in the LabjTinth, which 
for horror can be paralleled only from the sack of some mediaeval 
city. There were minor affairs around Les Eparges and in the 
Vosges. In the Argonne at the end of June the Imperial Crown 
Prince attacked the French Unes between Vienne and Varennes, 
and won and lost a hillock called La Fille Morte. It was the 
winter's stalemate repeated, but the balance of the war of attrition 
was not now in the Allies' favour. Little ground was lost, but 
little was won, and the list of casualties, French and British, 
advanced ominously for a period which showed no major action. 
The enemy machine was taking its toll. 

The line had become on both sides a series of elaborate fortifica- 
tions. It was a far cry from the rough and shallow shelter trenches 
in which the autumn battles had been fought to the intricate net- 
work which now spread from the North Sea to the Vosges. Along 
the Yser, though the floods had shrunk, enough water remained to 
constitute a formidable defence. There the low-l34ng positions were 
made as comfortable as possible by ingenious schemes of drainage 
and timbering, in which the Belgian soldiers were adepts. There, 
and in the Ypres Salient, the trenches could never be of the best. 
They could not be made deep enough because of the watery sub- 
soil, and resort was had to parapets, which were too good a target 
for artillery fire. From Ypres to Armentieres the autumn fighting 
had left the Germans with the better positions on higher ground, 
but the British trenches there had been brought to a wonderful 
pitch of excellence. In the Festubert and La Bassee region, and 
still more in Artois, the several AUied advances had reduced the 
front trenches to something Hke the autumn improvisations, but 
there was now a strong sj'stem of reserve positions. From Arras 
to Compiegne in the light soil of the Santerre and the Oise valley 
the conditions were favourable, though there were one or two hor- 
rible places, such as La Boisselle, near Albert, where the French 
front ran through a graveyard. On the Aisne the Germans had 
the better ground, and the peculiar chalky soil made trench life 
uncomfortable. Things were better in northern Champagne, 
while in the Argonne, the Woevre, and the Vosges the thick woods 
allowed of the establishment of forest colonies, where men could 
walk upright and lead a rational Ufe. Three-fourths of the whole 
front were probably unassailable except by a great artillery con- 
centration. The remainder was in that fluid condition which a 
war of attrition involves. But everysvhere — as distinguished from 


the state ot affairs in autumn — there was on both sides a series of 
prepared alternative positions. 

Trench fighting had now reached the rank of a special science. 
The armies had evolved in nine months a code of defensive warfare 
which implied a multitude of strange apparatus. There were more 
than a dozen varieties of bombs, which experience had shown were 
the only weapons for clearing out a trench network. There were 
machines for hurhng these not unlike the Roman ballista. The 
different species of shells in use would have puzzled an artillery 
expert a year before. Provision had been made to counteract 
poison gas and liquid fire, and respirator drill was now a recognized 
part of the army's routine. Every kind of entanglement which 
human ingenuity could suggest appeared in the ground before 
the trenches. The intricacy of the science meant a very hive of 
activity behind the lines. Any one journeying from the base to the 
first Hne might well be amazed at the immense and complex mech- 
anism of modem armies. At first it seemed like a gigantic business 
concern, a sort of magnified American " combine." Fifty miles 
off we were manufacturing on a colossal scale, and men were suf- 
fering from industrial ailments as they suffered in dangerous trades 
at home. There were more mechanics than in Sheffield, more dock 
labourers than in Newcastle. But all the mechanism resembled a 
series of pyramids which tapered to a point as they neared the 
front. Behind were the great general hospitals and convalescent 
homes ; then came the clearing hospitals ; then the main dressing 
stations ; and last of all, the advanced and regimental dressing 
stations, where mechanism failed. Behind were the huge transport 
dep6ts and repairing shops, the daily trains to railhead, the supply 
columns ; and last, the hand-carts to carry ammunition to the 
firing line. Behind were the railways and the mechanical trans- 
port, but at the end a man had only his two legs. Behind were 
the workshops of the Flying Corps and the squadron and flight 
stations ; but at the end of the chain was the sohtary aeroplane 
coasting over the German lines, and depending upon the skill and 
nerve of one man. Though all modern science had gone to the 
making of the war, at the end, in spite of every artificial aid, it 
became elementary, akin in many respects to the days of bows 
and arrows. 

The communication trench was the hnk between the busy 
hinterland and the firing line, and no science could make that other 
than rudimentary. A hump of ground was as vital to the scientific 
modem soldier as to the belligerent cave-man. There were all 


varieties of communication trenches. In some fortunate places 
they were not required. If the trenches Hned a thick wood, a man 
could reach them by strolling through the trees. Sometimes they 
took their start from what had been a village cellar, or they sud- 
denly came into being behind a hedge a mile or two from the 
fighting line. In some cases the front trenches could be reached 
easily by daylight ; in others it was a risky enterprise ; in one or 
two parts it was impossible. The immediate hinterland was the 
object of the enemy's shelling, and he showed great skill in picking 
out the points which relieving battalions or supply convoys must 
pass at a fixed time. Except in an attack, the trenches were safe 
and salubrious places compared to the road up to them. 

Things had changed since the winter, when the weather had 
turned the best-constructed trenches into icy morasses. WTiat had 
been a sodden field was now a clover meadow, and the tattered 
brown woods were leafy and green. It was extraordinary what a 
change the coming of spring wrought in the spirits of the men. 
The Indians, who had believed that the sun was lost for good, 
became new beings in April. The foreignness seemed to be stripped 
from war for the soldier who looked out on com and poppies in no 
way different from those in English fields ; who watched larks 
rising in the open ground between the opposing lines, and heard of 
an evening the nightingales in the pauses of the machine guns. 
When there was no attack, life in the trenches in summer was not 
uncomfortable. There was plenty of good food, relief was fre- 
quent, and the dry weather allowed the trenches and dug-outs to 
be made clean and tidy. The men, who in the winter had been 
perpetually wet, ragged, and dirty, were now smart and well-clad. 
They took to cultivating little gardens and ornamenting their 
burrows. The graveyards behind the lines, tended by British 
and French alike, were now flower-decked and orderly. As the 
summer went on the heat gave little trouble. Exposure by day 
and night burned the men brick red, but the northern sun had no 
terrors for those who had largely fought under tropical skies. 
Flies became a nuisance, for Flanders is a land of stagnant pools, 
and billets were apt to be surrounded by moats which bred swarms 
of insects. Yet there was little sickness, and probably never in 
history has so great a concourse of men fought in a healthier cam- 
paigning ground. The summer months, which in the Dardanelles 
were sheer purgatory, were in Western Europe pleasant and equable. 
The hinterland was worse than the trenches, for there the ceaseless 
traffic smothered the countryside in dust. 


All the old British battalions of the line and most of the Ter- 
ritorials had had heavy losses, so they were largely composed of 
new drafts, and their officers were mostly young. In May one 
famous battalion, which won great honour at First Ypres, had, 
besides its colonel, only one officer who had seen more than a 
year's service. Yet for the ordinary purposes of the trenches it 
would be hard to say that the units were inferior now to what they 
had been in October. This new phase of the fighting was espe- 
cially made for youth. It was a subaltern's war. Young men with 
six months' experience were as efficient for trench warfare as 
veterans of several campaigns. They had all the knowledge that 
was relevant, since the conditions were so novel that every man had 
to learn them from the beginning, and they were young and keen 
and cheerful to boot. Never had what we may call the " public 
school " qualities been more at a premium. High spirits, the power 
of keeping men up to their business and infecting them with keen- 
ness, good humour, and good temper, were the essentials demanded ; 
and boys fresh from school had these gifts to perfection. Their 
temperament was attuned to that of the British soldier, and the 
result was that perfect confidence which is the glory of an army. 
The routine of trench work was varied with many bold enterprises 
of reconnaissance and destruction, undertaken with something of 
the light-heartedness of the schoolboy. 

Spring and summer brought easier conditions for the air services 
of the belligerent Powers ; but the comparative stagnation in the 
Western theatre, where the service had been most highly developed, 
prevented any conspicuous action by this arm. The work of the 
winter in reconnaissance and destruction went on, and the story 
was rather of individual feats than of any great concerted activity. 
The importance of the air had revealed itself, and all the combatants 
were busied with new construction. In Britain we turned out a 
great number of new machines. We experimented with larger 
types, and we perfected the different varieties of aerial bomb. The 
Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, containing some of the chief 
scientists of the day, solved various difficult problems, and saw to 
it that theory kept pace with practice. We added largely to the 
number of our airmen. At the beginning of the war we had only 
the Central Flying School, capable of training at one time twenty 
pupils ; by midsummer we had eleven such schools, able to train 
upwards of two hundred. The enemy airplanes began to improve 
in speed and handiness, but where Germany advanced an inch 
we advanced an ell. Admirable as was the air work of all the 


Allies, the British service, under its Director-General, Sir David 
Henderson, had reached by midsummer a height of efficiency which 
was not exceeded by any other branch of the Army or Navy. 

To a student of military affairs it seemed amazing that a 
department 'only a few years old, and with less than one year's 
experience of actual war, should have attained so soon to so com- 
plete an efficiency and so splendid a tradition. Perhaps it was the 
continuous demand upon nerve and intelligence. Young men 
gathered from all quarters and all professions became in a little 
while of one type. They had the same quiet voices, the same 
gravity, the same dulled eyes, with that strange look in them 
that a man gets from peering into infinite space. The air, like the 
deep sea, seemed to create its own gentility, and no service had 
ever a more perfect breeding. Its tradition, less than a year old, 
was as high and stiff as that of any historic regiment. Self-adver- 
tising at this stage did not exist. In the military wing, at any rate, 
no names were mentioned ; any achievement went to the credit 
of the corps, not of the aviator, unless the aviator were killed. Its 
members spoke of their profession with a curious mixture of tech- 
nical wisdom and boyish adventure. The flying men made one 
family, and their esprit de corps was as great as that of a battleship. 
To spend some time at their headquarters at the front was an 
experience which no one could forget, so complete were the unity 
and loyalty and keenness of every man and officer. To be with 
them of an evening when they waited for the return of their friends, 
identifying from far off the thresh of the different propellers, was 
to realize the warm camaraderie bom of a constant facing of danger. 
In the air service neither body nor mind dared for one second to 
be stagnant, and character responded to this noble stimulus. 

The summer was punctuated with Zeppelin raids, which vied 
with the submarine exploits in their fascination for the German 
public. With its curious grandiosity of mind, that public chose to 
see in the sudden descent of the mighty engine of destruction out 
of the heavens a sign of the supernatural prowess of their race. 
A great mystery was made of the business in the hope of exciting 
among the civilian population of the Allies a dread commensurate 
with German confidence. In this Germany was disappointed. 
The French and British peoples took the danger with calmness. 
It was a war risk, unpleasant in its character, but very clearly 
limited in its scope. There was a moment in Britain when the 
peril was over-estimated ; there were also moments when it was 
unduly minimized ; but for the most part the thing was regarded 


with calm good sense. There were four types of German airship 
in use — the Zeppelin, the Schiitte-Lanz, the Parseval, and the 
military ship known as the " M " type— but the term Zeppelin was 
used popularly to cover them all. During the war Germany went 
on building at the rate of about one a month, a rate which more than 
made up for losses. Her chief difficulty was the supply of trained 
crews, for her reserves at the beginning of the campaign were 
speedily absorbed. The eastern and south-eastern coasts and the 
capital itself were in England the main objects of the German raids. 
During the first year of war seventy-one civilian adults and 
eighteen children were killed ; and 189 civilian adults and thirty- 
one children injured. No soldier or sailor was killed, and only 
on one occasion was any damage inflicted which could be described 
as of the smallest mihtary importance. The principal French 
centres assailed were Calais and Paris, and there, too, the victims 
were few. No military or naval depot was damaged. Little shops 
and the cottages of the working classes alone bore the brunt of the 
enemy's fury. It was very different with the Allied air work. 
The yellow smoke of burning chemical factories and the glare of 
blazing Zeppelin sheds attested the fruitfulness of their enterprises. 
The truth was that the boasted Zeppelin proved an unhandy 
instrument of war. Its blows were directed blindly and at random. 
This was not to say that it might not achieve a surprising result, 
but that achievement would be more by accident than design. 

It had been foreseen that the true weapon against such raids 
was the airplane itself. A fight between a Zeppelin and an airplane 
had been long looked forward to as, sooner or later, inevitable, and 
the AlHed aircraft had instructions to engage a German airship 
whenever it appeared. It was not till the morning of 7th June 
that such a duel took place. About 3 a.m. Flight-Sub-Lieutenant 
R. A. J. Warneford, an officer of the British Naval Air Service, 
discovered a Zeppelin between Ghent and Brussels, He was flying 
in a very light monoplane, and managed to rise above the airship, 
which was moving at a height of about 6,000 feet. Descending to 
a distance of about 50 feet, he dropped six bombs, the last of which 
burst the envelope, and caused the whole ship to explode in a mass 
of flame. The force of the explosion turned the monoplane up- 
side down, but the skill and presence of mind of the airman enabled 
him to right it. He was compelled to descend in the enemy's 
country, but was able to re-start his engine and return safely to his 
base. The Zeppelin fell in a blazing mass to the ground, and was 
destroyed with all its crew. The hero of this brilliant exploit 


had only received his flying certificate a few months before. It 
would be hard to overpraise the courage and devotion which 
inspired such an attack, or the nerve and fortitude which enabled 
him to return safely. Flight-Sub-Lieutenant Wameford's name 
became at once a household word in France and Britain, and he 
was most deservedly awarded the Victoria Cross and the Cross of 
the Legion of Honour. His career was destined to be as short 
as it had been splendid, for on 17th June he was accidentally 
killed while flying in the aerodrome at Versailles. 


April 2^ June 21, 19 15. 

Russia's Position in April — Hindenbnrg's Plan — Mackensen attacks — Retreat of 
the Russian Armies — The Loss of Przemysl and Lemberg — The Russian Posi- 
tion at Midsummer. 

In April popular opinion in Western Europe looked with confidence 
to the Eastern front, where Russia seemed to be winning her way 
to a position which would give her a starting-place for her great 
summer offensive. It was certain that she had abundance of 
trained men, and it was believed that there was sufficient equip- 
ment to double the force which had held the long winter lines. 
There was some division of opinion, indeed, as to where the offensive 
would fall. One school held that the old route by Cracow to the 
Oder promised the best results ; another considered that, having 
won fifty miles and more of the Carpathian watershed, and in 
many places dominated the southern debouchments of the passes, 
she would sweep down upon the Hungarian plains and strike a 
blow which would detach Hungary from her alliance and render 
her no more a German granary. There was httle evidence to decide 
between the rival views, for to clear the crest of the Carpathians 
was a necessary preliminary both for an advance to Cracow and a 
descent upon Hungary. But on the main point there was no dif- 
ference of opinion. Russia would speedily assume a vigorous and 
sustained offensive, the great offensive of the Allied summer strategy. 
WTiat actually happened was one of the most dramatic reversals 
of fortune which the campaigns revealed. So far from being the 
attacker, Russia became the attacked. In a second, as it seemed, 
the centre of gravity was changed, and the main strength of Ger- 
many descended upon her in an avalanche not less deadly than 
the great swing from the Sambre and Meuse in the first months of 



war. Under this assault the Russian offensive disappeared like 
smoke. Cracow and the Hungarian comlands were alike forgotten, 
the gains of nine months vanished, and the whole fortitude of the 
nation was centred on a desperate effort to save its southern 
armies from destruction. But if the disaster came as a sharp 
surprise to the civihans of the Allies, it had not been unexpected by 
their General Staffs. For some months it had been becoming clear 
that Russia might be a giant in strength but that she was a giant 
in fetters. Her numbers could not be armed or transported with 
any speed. She was desperately short of every form of artillery 
and every kind of ammunition. As against the German 12-inch 
gun she had nothing bigger than half that calibre.* The nature 
of her government and her economic system made it impossible 
for her to supply her needs in time. On her nine hundred miles of 
front there were a dozen danger-points for a resolute enemy. 

The release of Selivanov's army of Przemysl enabled Ivanov 
to strengthen the front which opposed Linsingen, and to weight 
the blow of Brussilov's right wing against the Uzsok and Lupkow 
passes. But it was not possible for Russia to use her army of 
Przemysl as Oyama had used Nogi's army of Port Arthur, 
which decided the Battle of Mukden by its unexpected offensive 
on the Japanese left. In a struggle for mountain passes the theatre 
is necessarily circumscribed, and the number of men employed 
is strictly determined by the slender communications and narrow 
approaches. Ivanov wisely held most of Selivanov's force in 
reserve, and the day was approaching when there was need of 
the ultimate reserve in man and rifle. Przemysl fell on 22nd 
March. On the 25th the Russian position was well south of the 
Dukla near Bartfeld, just short of the crest of the range at the 
Lupkow and the Uzsok, and then among the foothills till the 
Bukovina was reached, where on that day they crossed the Pruth. 
By the end of March the last Austrian position on the Lupkow 
had fallen to them, and they were pressing hard against the village 
of Uzsok, to the east of the pass of that name. Here they were 
aiming at the spurs of the hills running from the glens of the upper 
Dniester, which would command the Austrian right defending the 
pass. All through the first week of April the regions south of the 
Dukla and Lupkow and north of the Uzsok were the centre of severe 
fighting. The last of the winter storms was raging, and from the 
Dukla to the Bukovina there was snow to the thighs in all the 
higher glens. By the middle of the month the crest of the range 

• The details may be read in Gourko's Russia in 1914-17, chap. x. 


for seventy miles was Russia's, but the Uzsok still maintained its 
stubborn defence. Brussilov, while continuing his frontal attack, 
pushed on with his right wing south of the watershed, and tried to 
work his way to the rear of the Uzsok position from the Laborcz 
and Ung valleys. The important junction of Eperies south of the 
range was rendered useless to the enemy, and the Austrians took 
some steps to clear the inhabitants from the Ung valley. Brussilov 
was now within two or three days' march of the Hungarian plains. 

From the 17th to the 20th April the Austrian offensive suddenly 
revived, and there was a vigorous counter-attack against Brussilov's 
left flank in the vicinity of Stryj. The cause was the arrival of 
German reinforcements. By the 22nd the attack had failed, and 
the Russians in turn were pressing on the Bukovina border. The 
last fortnight of the month saw one of those sudden thaws which 
Poland and GaHcia know well. The hi gh valleys became impassable, 
for the melting snow had brimmed every torrent. Fighting, there- 
fore, was perforce confined to the foothills, and on 25th April 
another Austrian counter-attack developed all along the line from 
Koziova to the Delatyn Pass, and lasted for the better part of a 
week. Linsingen's army appeared to be aiming at the Stryj - 
Stanislau railway, and observers in the West assumed that this was 
the last desperate effort of Austria to save the Carpathian hne, 
and with it the Hungarian lowlands. A further portion of the 
Przemysl army was hurried to this section, which was precisely 
what the Austrians desired. 

During April, too, there had been a curious activity on the 
extreme north of the Eastern front. On 17th March a Russian 
detachment had occupied the East Prussian town of Memel, and 
had held it till the 21st, when they retired before a German relieving 
force. On the 25th the Germans retaliated by bombarding the 
villages of the Courland coast by means of their Baltic squadron, 
and sending a body of East Prussian Landsturm, under Prince 
Joachim, across the frontier, which captured Turoggen, north 
of the Niemen. On the last day of March Libau was heavily 
shelled by the German fleet, and during April troops from Lauen- 
stein's command made some progress on the Une of the Dubissa, and 
presently a cavalry brigade entered Libau. The West read in this 
northern activity and the counter-attack towards Stryj the same 
lesson. Both were attempts to relieve the pressure on the Car- 
pathian Une, which threatened at any moment to collapse and 
uncover Hungary. The West was wrong ; they were feints to 
mislead Russia. For in the very region which was confidently 


expected to be the scene of the great offensive that should give 
her Cracow, a mighty blow was preparing which was to wring all 
Galicia from her hands. 

Rarely has a secret been better kept, for even Austrian Head- 
quarters were not informed till the middle of April. No accurate 
details were known till the blow had fallen, but curiously enough 
the possibility had been widely canvassed for weeks, and very 
generally dismissed. The first hint came about 4th April, when 
fighting was reported on Dmitrieff's right on the Biala. Small 
attacks were undertaken there, in order that when the great move- 
ment began it should not at first be recognized for what it was, 
but assumed to be merely a continuation of the sporadic assaults 
of the past. On 6th April came a story that a German corps had 
been sent from Flanders by way of Munich to the Carpathians, 
and that Austria was withdrawing troops from Tyrol for the same 
purpose. On 13th April large bodies of German troops were 
reported to be passing through Czestochova. Then, from the 
17th onward, came the attacks on Brussilov's left in the Stryj 
neighbourhood, and all the rumours seemed adequately explained. 
The enemy had been making a last effort to keep the invaders 
north of the mountains. On the 23rd the Russian newspapers 
discussed frankly the appearance of new German armies round 
Cracow. From the 24th for several days there was an almost 
complete absence of news. The German censorship had suddenly 
been drawn tight, for the bolt was ready to launch. 

From the fall of Przemysl onward Germany had been busy 
behind her frontiers. Her Landsturm might go raiding with 
Prince Joachim, and her Bavarians battle under Linsingen for the 
passes, but these were only the fringes of a mighty effort. Three- 
fourths of the winter's accumulation of shell were brought to 
Cracow and carried out by night to the Donajetz line. Guns of 
every calibre came from everywhere on the Eastern and Western 
fronts and from Essen and Pilsen and Budapest, and in one section 
alone of about twenty miles along the Biala over 1,000 pieces were 
placed in position. Train after train kept bringing material and 
pontoons, and all the supplies of the engineers, for the land before 
them was a land of rivers. New hospital stations and new depdts 
for food and munitions were prepared close behind the front ; a 
new telegraph network was established ; great bands of cattle were 
driven up to their pens under cover of darkness. And then came 
the troops — from the East and the West fronts, and new levies 
from Austria and Hungary and Germany — all silently getting into 


place in a great hive of energy from the Nida to the Carpathians. 
Meanwhile Dmitrieff, in the Donajetz lines half a mile off, inspected 
his trenches and conducted his minor attacks and counter-attacks 
without an inkling of what was brewing. German organization 
had put forth a supreme effort. The world had never seen a greater 
concentration of men and guns more swiftly or more silently 

How came Russia to be caught napping ? The question is 
easier to ask than to answer. There were rumours in the West 
during March and April that the next German thrust would be 
eastward from Cracow. The activity in Germany, the troop trains 
passing up the Oder valley, might be directed to this end ; but, 
on the other hand, they might not. They might pass through the 
Gap of Moravia, to the south side of the Carpathians, to reinforce 
Boehm-Ermolli, or Linsingen, or Pflanzer-Baltin. This possi- 
bility of a double interpretation for a movement which was known, 
at any rate in part, to the Russian Staff was exactly what Germany 
had counted on. That was why the counter-attack upon Stryj 
was undertaken. Up to the very eve of the great blow Russia's 
eyes looked south for the enemy rather than west. 

At the same time it was anticipated that a blow might be struck 
against the Donajetz, but the Grand Duke Nicholas had no notion 
of the strength in which it would be delivered. Like every other 
Allied commander, he was ignorant of the gigantic artillery strength 
which it had been Germany's winter work to accumulate. He ex- 
pected no more than the ordinary attack of the Austrian I. Army, a 
little reinforced, perhaps, by German troops, which Dmitrieff had 
for four months beaten off with ease. The Donajetz position, 
with the river big from melting snows, was believed to be impreg- 
nable. So, indeed, it was to any ordinary attack. Dmitrieff had 
dug himself in securely since that day in December when he first 
took up the ground. Unfortunately, confident in the strength of 
his defence, he had neglected to create second and third lines to 
which in an emergency he could retire. Behind him was a series 
of rivers — the Wisloka, the Wislok,* and the San. The first would 
give a good straight river line covering the main western passes 
which Brussilov held. But if he were forced from the Wisloka, 
there was no river in the rear to afford complete cover to his front, 
and the situation of Brussilov in the mountains would be dangerously 
compromised. Dmitrieff, a brilliant and audacious leader in a 

* The Wisloka and the Wislok are identical names in Polish, but for clearness 
a different spelling has been adopted. 


manoeuvre battle, showed himself too Uttle prescient and cautious 
in a war of positions. 

In the last week of April there had been no change in the Russian 
commands, except in the northern army group, where General 
Russki, whose health had suffered gravely from the winter cam- 
paign, gave place on Easter Day to General Alexeiev, who had 
commanded the little army in the Bukovina. Alexeiev had begun 
his military career in the Turkish war of 1877, and had been Chief 
of the General Staff in the Kiev command. In the south, in 
Ivanov's group. Evert commanded the army on the Nida, Dmitrieff 
that on the Donajetz and the Biala, Brussilov and Tcherbatchev 
the armies of the Carpathians, and Lechitski the forces in the 
Bukovina. Ivanov's aim was to clear the passes and the southern 
foothills of the mountains, after which a movement south into 
Hungary or west towards Cracow could be undertaken at his dis- 
cretion. The spring had brought him new troops, as yet ill-equipped, 
and especially lacking in heavy artillery. He may have considered 
that until he was better supplied with shells the valley warfare 
of the Carpathians was more suited to his forces than an attack 
upon the entrenchments of Cracow. 

During April there had been a very complete readjustment of 
the commands and forces of the Teutonic League from the Nida 
to the Sereth. Until then Woyrsch had been on the Pilitza, the 
Archduke Joseph on the Nida, Boehm-Ermolli on the Donajetz, 
Boroevitch and Linsingen in the Central Carpathians, and Pfianzer- 
Baltin in the Bukovina. Now the group between the upper Vis- 
tula and the mountains was placed under direct German control, 
Hindenburg's former lieutenant, Mackensen, taking up the work 
of group commander.* Woyrsch and the Archduke Joseph still 
commanded north of the Upper Vistula. Then, tightly packed in 
the narrows between the river and the hills, came the Austrian 
IV. Army and the new German XL Army. The Austrian III. and 
II. Armies faced Brussilov's right in the Carpathians, Linsingen 
was opposite Koziova and the road to Stryj, while to the east 
the Austrian VII. Army held the front towards the Sereth. These, 
with one exception, were the armies of the previous month, with 
the commands slightly rearranged. The exception was Mackensen's 
force on the left centre, which was the operative part of the whole 

Mackensen's group was probably the strongest which Ger- 

• Mackensen surrendered his old command, the IX. Army, to Prince Leopold of 

1915] THE GERMAN PLAN. 95 

many had ever mustered under one general. The XI. Army con- 
sisted of eight German and two Austrian infantry divisions, and one 
division of cavalry, and the Austrian IV. Army had five Austrian 
infantry divisions and one German, and one of cavalry. Most of 
the German divisions were seasoned troops brought from the 
Western front. But more important than its infantry strength was 
its gigantic munitionment, for the heavy batteries numbered not 
less than 1,500 guns. Mackensen, soon to be made a field-marshal 
for his services, was one of the ablest of the German generals. 
A Saxon by birth, he had risen, like Kluck, by sheer merit to high 
command. He had been responsible for the great offensive of 
November which had given Germany western Poland, and had 
gravely threatened Warsaw. Germany had never played her 
traditional game to more brilHant effect than in the movement 
which we have now to relate. It was more dramatic than her 
great sweep on Paris in August, for then she was working in the 
heyday of her first enthusiasm ; whereas now she was stemming 
a hostile tide after long months of drawn battles. There was no 
degeneracy in the fighting quahty of a Power which could thus 
belie the expectation of the world, and out of set-backs and checks 
snatch the materials for a sounding triumph. 

The elements of Mackensen's plan were simple, like the elements 
of all great strategy. The main fact was that, for all her success, 
Russia's southern position was not a good one. She was holding 
the southern side of a salient, and so was virtually enveloped ; 
only the mountain barrier of the Carpathians and the weakness 
of the Austrian armies prevented her from suffering the usual 
effects of envelopment. Now in such a position a strong blow 
does not merely dint a line ; it may compel a wholesale retreat 
of remote parts of the front. Russia's communications were the 
main railway through Przemysl and Lemberg, and the southern 
line which followed the foothills by Jaslo, Sanok, and Stryj. A 
thrust from the Bukovina which recaptured Lemberg would mean 
the retreat of the whole Russian front in western Galicia. A 
blow from the central passes which reached Jaroslav would cut 
off Dmitrieff on the Donajetz and the bulk of Brussilov's army. 
Finally, a thrust from the Donajetz which succeeded would uncover 
the Galician outlets of the passes which Russia held, and drive 
Brussilov back from the watershed. Obviously the first and second 
of these plans, if they could be compassed, would be the most 
fruitful. But Germany's trump card was her mass of artillery, 
and this could not be handled with precision among the wooded 


glens of the Bukovina or the strait valleys of the Central Car- 
pathians. The place for it was the rolling plateau of Galicia. 
Accordingly the thrust was made from the Donajetz. 

The ultimate aim was clear. If the German guns were numer- 
ous enough and fully supplied with ammunition, there would be 
no rest for the Russian armies till they were outside the zone of 
good Austrian railways, and back among the indifferent com- 
munications beyond their own frontier. It was a mathematical 
calculation. A certain weight of shell would make any position 
untenable. This meant that Przemysl and Lemberg would be 
retaken and handed back to Austria as a proof of the potency of 
her ally. It meant that the valuable oil-fields of Galicia would 
once again be in German hands. It meant that the Hungarian 
cornlands would be safe, and Count Tisza would be appeased. 
It meant that the coquetries of Rumania with the Allies would 
be summarily ended. She would no longer be disposed to attack 
Austria, and, if she had the disposition, she would not have the 
power. These were political ends, important, but still secondary. 
The main purpose was military — not the reoccupation of territory, 
but the crippling of Russia's field armies. If Mackensen could 
drive Ivanov from Galicia, a time would come when the Russian 
front would have to fall back everywhere to conform. The ultimate 
position would be south-west of the railway from Rovno by Cholm, 
Lublin, and Ivangorod to Warsaw, which would provide it with 
lateral communications. If that position were broken, then War- 
saw must fall, and the whole front retire behind the Polish Triangle. 
This would mean that the armies of the north, based on Petrograd 
and Moscow, and the annies of the south, based on Kiev, were in 
danger of being separated by that triangle of lake and swamp 
called the Marshes of Pinsk or of the Pripet, over which lay no 
communications for large masses of modern troops. If that 
happened, then Alexeiev and Ivanov would be out of touch. It 
was not the capture of Warsaw that would damage Russia's 
position, but this isolation of her army groups. No offensive 
would be possible for months if such a fate were hers. The German 
high command had at the moment no desire to risk the fate 
of Charles XII. and Napoleon, and embark on a serious invasion 
of Russia. Enough for them to put the Russian armies temporarily 
out of action. 

The plan was bold and sagacious, but it had one drawback. 
It demanded nothing short of complete success. If the Russian 
forces could be driven over their border, and so spHt up that con- 


centrated action was impossible for many months, then indeed a 
great thing would have been gained, and half a million men might 
be spared to reinforce the Western front. But it was not enough 
merely to drive them from Galicia. It would be a costly process, 
and even though the Russians lost more heavily, they could afford 
it the better. Somewhere in the not very distant future lurked 
for Germany the spectre of shortage of men, and, if she wasted 
her manhood in costly methods of war for the sake of anything 
but the most decisive successes, her case would be evil. A new 
trench line on the eastern Galician frontier would be no real change 
in the situation. It would be more difficult to hold, for her lines 
of comnmnication would be several hundred miles longer, and as 
the result of her efforts she would have fewer men with which to 
hold it. Russia would still be permitted a dangerous offensive. 
Therefore it was incumbent upon Mackensen to carry out the 
whole of his plan. Nothing less would suffice. A partial success, 
however splendid it might appear, would be a failure, for it would 
leave him weaker and in a worse position than when he started. 

On the morning of Wednesday, 28th April, the Austro-German 
front lay along the left bank of the Donajetz to its junction 
with the Biala ; then along the left bank of the Biala to the foot- 
hills of the Carpathians, where it crossed to the right bank in the 
vicinity of Ropa. Its communications were good, for it had for 
its left the Vistula, for its centre the main railway from Cracow, 
and for its right the line which runs through Novo Sandek to the 
junction at Grybow, on the Biala. The possession of Tamow, 
then held by Dmitrieff, would give it a valuable cross line up the 
Biala valley. 

On the 28th the action began with an advance of Mackensen's 
right on the upper Biala towards Gorlice. The place was skil- 
fully chosen, for it had already been the object of some minor 
attacks, and the additional pressure did not at first reveal the 
importance of the movement. It is a vital advantage for a 
general not only to keep his concentration secret, but to get the 
actual fighting begun before the enemy realizes what it means. 
Further, a success here would outflank Dmitrieff's position, and 
would threaten the rear of Brussilov's right wing, now well south 
of the Dukla Pass. For two days the attack progressed, positions 
were won, and Dmitrieff was compelled to weaken his front in 
order to support his left. 

Then on Saturday, ist May, the great batteries were loosed. 


The centre of the attack was now the village of Ciezkovice, half- 
way between Grybow and Tamow. Under cover of a prodigious 
artillery fire bridges were pushed across the Biala, and Ciezkovice 
was taken. Its oil tanks were presently in flames, and soon it was 
a heap of smouldering ruins. Hundreds of guns were unmasked 
northward along the valley, and the Russian position was simply 
blown out of existence. Over 700,000 shells were said to have 
been hurled into the Russian trenches. It was Neuve Chapelle 
over again, and a greater than Neuve Chapelle. The Russians had 
no artillery powerful enough to check the awful storm. Taken by 
surprise, they made what fight they could, but the bravest of men 
cannot continue in trenches which have ceased to exist. Mean- 
while the force which had crossed at Ciezkovice acted in con- 
junction with the advance from Ropa, took Gorlice, and turned 
the whole of Dmitrieff's front. On Sunday, 2nd May, the defence 
collapsed. Masses of the enemy had forced the Donajetz-Biala 
line at various points, and by that afternoon the Russians were 
retreating twenty miles to the fine of the Wisloka. Mackensen 
had won an indisputable victory. The retreat to the Wisloka was 
not far from a rout, and Dmitrieff paid the penalty in guns and 
men for not having prepared a series of alternative positions. 
Especially in the south the Russians fared ill. The troops in the 
Carpathian foothills extricated themselves only with heavy losses. 
The Wisloka was a river and no more ; no entrenchments had been 
made ready ; and the guns which had driven in the Donajetz line 
would have little difficulty in annihilating one so conspicuously 

But by this time the Russians had recovered from their first 
surprise, and they made a wonderful stand on the Wisloka. Rein- 
forcements had been hurried up, including General Irmanov's 
famous Caucasian Corps from the Bzura front. The Caucasians 
defied the artillery storm and got to grips with the enemy. But in 
spite of more than mortal courage, the case was hopeless. For five 
days — from Sunday, 2nd May, to Friday, 7th May — the Russians 
clung to their shallow trenches on its eastern bank. Mackensen 
delivered his main attack against the railway crossing at Jaslo, 
and forced it early on the morning of the 7th. Had the Wisloka 
been held the Dukla might still have been saved, but when it went 
the troops in the hills were in deadly danger. They fell back in 
something of a rout, and Mackensen's right gave them no rest. 
Their goal was the upper glen of the Wislok, and the Germans 
followed along the two railways which branched eastward from Jaslo. 


By the Saturday evening the enemy had won the Wislok, crossing by 
the railway bridge east of Rymanov, and lower down at the sharp 
bend of the river near Frysztak. Only the Russian right succeeded 
in making a stand. It ran from Dembica, on the Cracow- Jaroslav 
line, to the Vistula, a few miles west of the point where it receives 
the Wisloka. Evert's army on the north shore had meantime 
fallen back from the Nida to the Czama, to conform with the 
southern retirement. 

The forcing of the upper Wislok had in effect broken the 
Russian line. For a moment it looked as if Mackensen were about 
to roll up the two halves and effect a second Sedan. But the Rus- 
sians were now alive to the German purpose, and had devised a 
strategy to meet the danger. At all costs they must prevent a 
disaster to their left, so they pushed out strong forces from Sanok, 
on the upper San, to stem the enemy's tide, which was surging now 
beyond the upper Wislok. This temporary check enabled Brus- 
silov's army, after much desperate fighting during the Sunday 
and Monday, to extricate itself from the Carpathian foothills. The 
troops from south of the Dukla and Lupkow passes had a long way 
to travel, and the Germans naturally made many prisoners. At 
the same time Ivanov's right centre was compelled to fall back 
from the Wisloka to the lower Wislok. 

Next day, Tuesday, nth May, the retirement to the San 
began. The Russian left was already across its upper waters, and 
by the Wednesday evening the bulk of the line lay just west of 
the lower San as far as Przemysl and then south across the 
broken country to the upper Dniester, whence it was continued 
to the old Koziova position, which was still intact. During 
the two following days the San was crossed, except in its 
extreme lower course, and the front ran from Przemysl northward 
along the right bank of the river. That was on the evening of 
Friday, 14th May. The latter part of the retirement was managed 
with great skill and in good order. The bridge-head at Jaroslav 
was held till troops and guns were safely across, in spite of all 
Mackensen's efforts to turn the retreat into a rout. In a fort- 
night the army of Dmitrieff had fallen back eighty-five miles, and 
had lost heavily in prisoners and in material — losses exceeded by 
Brussilov's troops, who had to cut their way out of the hills. In 
some cases a corps lost three-fourths of its strength. But both 
armies were still in being. Ivanov's southern front had not been 

The Russian alignment along the San marked the end of the 


first stage of the great German offensive in the East. That stage 
had within itself two phases. There was first the overwhelming 
thrust and the huddled Russian retreat till the Wislok was reached. 
They stayed not upon the order of their going, outnumbered as they 
were, and blasted and scorched by the fiercest artillery bombard- 
ment which the world had seen. In such circumstances the stand 
for five days on the Wisloka, which enabled the guns to get away 
and saved Brussilov from destruction, must rank as a surprising feat 
of arms. Like the brother of ^Eschylus, who at Salamis grappled 
a Persian ship, and when his hands were cut off clung by his teeth, 
thereby earning immortal fame among his countrymen, the Russians 
in their uttermost peril showed all the silent fortitude of their race. 
Their rearguards held the pass till the army could make good its 
escape. Not less fine was the dash of Bnissilov's troops through 
the Carpathian foothills. They fought their way to safety as 
Bulgakov's remnant had fought in February through the Augus- 
tovo forests. Their losses were terrible, but it was still an army 
that assembled on the Wislok. 

From the Wislok onward the case was changed. The Grand 
Duke Nicholas had mastered the facts of the situation. It was 
idle to hope to withstand Mackensen's onslaught. That terrific 
phalanx of men in close formation, preceded by a thunderstorm of 
shell, could only be countered by a machine of the same quality, 
and that Russia did not possess. The German Staff was right. 
The laws of mathematics apply universally, and this was a mathe- 
matical calculation. Russia must give way before the blast. But 
the most elaborate accumulation of war material will some day be 
expended, and a phalanx is the weaker for every thrust. It was 
Russia's business to exhaust the great machine by drawing it out 
to full stretch, though hundreds of miles of territory should be sacri- 
ficed in the process. The danger was from Mackensen. If we 
may judge by the si and of the Russian right, the army of the 
Archduke Joseph had not proved over formidable ; and it is 
obvious that the III. and II. Austrian Armies had blundered, 
or Brussilov, caught between two fires, would never have been 
able to bring away most of his forces. Before Mackensen retreat 
must be the only course, but it must be retreat in close contact 
with the enemy, drawing his fire, exhausting his munitions, and 
depleting his ranks. It could not be such a retreat as lured on 
Charles XII. and Napoleon, but one in which the Austro-German 
troops had to fight for every mile and halt again and again on 
bloody battlefields. From the Wislok onwards the Grand Duke 


Nicholas had the reins tight in his hands. His object was to save 
the most for Russia at the greatest cost to the enemy. 

But he made no mistake about the German strength. His 
policy involved a retreat not of miles and days, but of leagues and 
weeks. Behind Ivanov's line lay Przemysl, for whose capture ten 
weeks before all the bells in Russia had rung, and Lemberg, which 
had been the first spoil of Russian arms. Two hundred miles north 
was the great city of Warsaw, for which Germany had thrice striven 
in vain. Such a retreat as the Grand Duke contemplated might give 
all three to German hands, and one at least was doomed when his 
armies fell back on the San. But it had always been a trait of his 
nation that it sat loose in its territorial affections. The words 
which Kutusov, in Tolstoy's War and Peace, speaks to his council 
on the question of the sacrifice of Moscow, had always been the 
creed of Russia's generals.* No province or ancient city was to 
be weighed for a moment against the safety of the armies of Russia. 
The Grand Duke was aware that Mackensen must succeed fully 
or not at all, and he knew that success did not mean the occupation 
of territory. Though the Russian armies were to be forced back 
to the Bug and the Sereth, and Warsaw, Lemberg, and Przemysl 
were to be prize of the conqueror, yet if these armies were still intact 
the adventure had failed. 

It was now the morning of Friday, 14th May. The Russian 
right was being pushed towards the Vistula, but was still in 
the neighbourhood of Opatov. Their right centre was west of 
the lower San, their centre east of the river had looped forward so 
as to cover Przemysl, their left centre was along the upper Dniester, 
while their left was conducting a counter-offensive in the district 
between the Dniester and the Pruth. The Russian wings v/ere 
having some success, but the main movement was in the centre, 
where Mackensen's phalanx was slowly coming once again into 
action. It travelled leisurely, for with the best communications 
in the world you cannot move a multitude of heavy pieces and a 
great weight of shells with the speed of infantry. It had for its 
passage the two good railways of Western Galicia, and along the 
highroads light rails had been laid to facilitate its transport. May 

♦ " The ancient and holy capital of Russia ! Allow me to remind your Excel- 
lency that the phrase conveys absolutely no meaning to Russian hearts. ... It is 
simply a miUtary problem, to be stated as follows : Since the safety of the country 
depends on the army, is it more advantageous to risk its destruction and the loss of 
Moscow by fighting a pitched battle, or to withdraw without resistance and leave 
the city to its fate ? ... In virtue of the power placed in my hands by the Czar and 
my country, I conamand that we shall retre it." 


on the Eastern front was a month of constant rain, and rivers and 
floods clogged the mobility of the great machine. Once again the 
Russians drew some assistance from the weather. 

What are we to understand by a " phalanx " as used in this 
supreme German thrust ? To the minds of most people the word 
brings the picture of a compact oblong of men, packed like sardines, 
and gaining their effect by the sheer weight of human bodies. If 
they elaborate the idea they still think of the phalanx of Pyrrhus 
or Alexander, or the dense infantry masses of mediaeval battles. 
But the whole conception is erroneous in modem war. The Ger- 
mans believed in massed attacks, but the density of their order 
was relative to the British practice, and had always in view the 
conditions laid down by modem weapons. A mass is a good target, 
and its striking power is at any one moment only the striking power 
of the men in its front rank. Mackensen would seem to have 
launched his infantry in successive lines, perhaps a score of yards 
apart. In each Une the men were in what we should regard as 
close order, probably one man to the yard, which would appear 
to be the hmit of density compatible with free individual move- 
ment. This formation had the moral effect of weight : each man 
felt that he was closely supported to left and right and behind. 
We must therefore think of Mackensen's tactics as a series of efforts 
by lines of men in close order, and not the impulsive power of a 
serried mass. Such tactics, according to the orthodox view, would 
not prevail against well-disciplined and well-entrenched infantry. 
The experiment was tried at Mons and at Ypres, and failed. But 
Mackensen calculated upon the disintegrating effect of his artillery 
bombardments. It was not an attack of massed infantry upon 
infantry in position, but of fresh troops against a dazed and broken 
foe. The phalanx was destined to perform the work usually 
assigned to cavalry — to complete an action by disintegrating the 
last remnants of the defence. On this theory Mackensen's tactics 
were sound, but the artillery preparation beforehand had to be 
sufficient. Otherwise, if anything was left to the defence, the 
attack lost terribly. In this advance there were places where the 
bombardment was incomplete, and the German infantry came upon 
trench lines still held and machine-gun positions, and went down 
like corn before the scythe. 

It was Ivanov's aim to check the enemy till such time as 
Przemysl could be cleared of supplies and armament. His method 
was a holding battle on his centre and a vigorous counter-thmst 
on his wings. Let us look first at the battles on the flanks. 


Evert's army, the right wing of the Russian command, had been 
compelled by the retirement of the centre to fall back from the 
Nida towards the Vistula. It was opposed by Woyrsch's command 
and the Austrian I. Army, which had not the fighting value of 
Mackensen's centre, and its retreat was determined by the strategical 
necessity of conforming, rather than by superior pressure. It 
retired behind Kielce, which gave the enemy the railway junction 
and the branch line to Ostrovietz. It will be remembered that 
in the first assault on Warsaw this line had played a great part, 
since from Ostrovietz a good road led to the easiest crossing of the 
middle Vistula at Josefov. On Friday, 14th May, the Russian 
right was well in front of Ostrovietz, and ran through the town 
of Opatov to the Vistula, west of its confluence with the San. 
Evert resolved to attempt a counter-attack which would both 
check the dangerous move on Josefov and, if fortune favoured, 
do something to relieve the pressure on the centre. The Austro- 
German advance guard was progressing comfortably under the 
impression that the Russians would not make a stand till the 
Vistula was reached, when, on the morning of Saturday, 15th May, 
Evert suddenly struck. His blow was aimed at both flanks of the 
advance, while his Cossacks fetched a wide circuit and fell upon 
the communications. The result was that, in a three days' battle, 
the enemy was checked, and fell back to west of Ivaniska, where 
he received reinforcements which enabled him to make a stand. 
This action was fought largely with the bayonet, and since the enemy 
was caught in the open, the traditional Russian pre-eminence in 
this arm had full play. The troops just south of Evert along the 
San, infected by the activity on their right, delivered a fierce attack, 
which drove back the Archduke Joseph to the town of Tarno- 
brzeg, on the Vistula. Here the action was stayed, rather because 
of Ivanov's general orders than because the Russian energy was 
exhausted. With his right wing much depleted for supports to 
his centre, he had not the troops to attempt a true enveloping action 
on a flank. 

On the extreme Russian left, on the frontiers of the Bukovina, 
the Austrian VII. Army had been gradually pushing back the 
Ninth Army of Lechitski. Pflanzer-Baltin had a position which 
on his left was about half-way between Nadworna and the impor- 
tant junction of Stanislau. His right centre was on the lower 
Dniester, holding the railway crossing of Zalestchiki. On 9th May 
the Russians struck at this extended front, which can scarcely 
have been less than a hundred miles long, and in five days* 


fighting cleared him from the Dniester line. By Saturday, the 
15th, his left was back on the Pruth, and Nadwoma was in 
Russian hands. The Russians, too, were on the south side of the 
Pruth at Sniatyn, and they had cut the railway between Austria 
and the Bukovina. They were threatening, but had not taken, 
the towns of Kolomea and Czemovitz. 

It was a considerable success. They had driven back the enemy 
in some places as much as thirty miles, and had for the moment 
checked a movement which might have cut one of their communi- 
cations with southern Russia. On a different kind of front these 
two rapid and effective blows at the wings would have compelled 
a halt in the centre. But in the situation of the Galician armies 
they had only a local effect. The Russian right, as we have seen, 
was too weak to attempt an enveloping movement or the cutting 
of Mackensen's and the Archduke Joseph's communications. The 
Russian left, though it drove the enemy back to the hills, could 
incommode Pflanzer-Baltin only, and not the whole Austro-German 
command. To strike at the main enemy communications it would 
have to advance over the passes into the Hungarian plains, and 
for this it had not the men or munitions. The Carpathian barrier 
had the effect of making the central enemy advance singularly 
insensitive to what happened on its right wing. We may, there- 
fore, regard Russia's two counter-attacks as merely efforts to gain 
time. The centre of gravity was still on the San, where Mackensen's 
success would render nugatory the losses of the flanks. 

The Battle of the San began on Saturday, 15th May, and must 
rank as one of the major conflicts of the retreat. It is important 
to note the Austro-German dispositions, and the direction of the 
converging attacks. On the left the Archduke Joseph was operat- 
ing against the lower San, from the Vistula up to the neighbour- 
hood of Jaroslav. The Russians held the left bank close to the 
stream from Jaroslav down to Sieniawa, and from that point 
ran well to the west till the Vistula was reached at Tamobrzeg. 
From Jaroslav they followed the San in front of Przemysl, bent 
round in a shallow salient to the railway junction of Dobromil, 
and then ran east by Sambor, Drohobycz, and Stryj, covering the 
upper waters of the Dniester. Against the section Jaroslav- 
Przemysl Mackensen's phalanx was advancing on a narrow front, 
with the corps of Boroevitch supporting its right. The Austrian 
III. Army, having crossed the Dukla and Lupkow passes, was 
moving against the re-entrant of the salient, just south of Przemysl ; 
and the II. Army was aiming at the railway between Dobromil 

1915] FALL OF PRZEMYSL. 105 

and Sambor. Linsingen, having at last forced the Koziova 
position, was moving upon Stryj and the line of the Dniester, 
with his right flung out in the direction of Halicz, where contact 
was attained with the extreme right, under Pflanzer-Baltin. 

About midnight on Saturday Jaroslav fell. The Russian rear- 
guard was driven from the low heights west of the town, but it had 
fought a delaying action sufficient to ensure the passage of the 
San for the rest of the Russian centre. All Sunday the Archduke 
Joseph battled for the San crossings, and on Monday 100,000 men 
had forded the river at several places. Next day, Tuesday, he 
had taken Sieniawa, and the Russian right was two miles back 
from the eastern bank, astride the tributary stream of the Lubac- 
zowka. Here it made a new stand. It would appear that Macken- 
sen's phalanx had not yet come up into line, for during these days 
there was no strong attack upon Przemysl from the west. It was 
otherwdse with the re-entrant on the south. On Saturday, the 
15th, Marwitz captured the railway junctions of Dobromil and 
Sambor, and pushed northward against the Przemysl lines. This 
attack was clearly most dangerous, for an advance of a few more 
miles would give the enemy control of the main line between 
Przemysl and Lemberg, and cut off the troops in the city. The 
hazard of such a position, as we have already seen, is not the apex 
of the salient, but the angles at which it joins the main front. 
At Ypres in October the most deadly German attacks were on 
Bixschoote in the north and the Klein Zillebeke ridge in the south. 
At Lodz in November the German salient was almost destroyed 
by the Russian pressure on the two sides of its base. The chief 
danger, therefore, came at the moment from the Austrian III. 
and II. Armies. Farther east Linsingen was attacking Stryj and 
the Dniester line. 

Przemysl, after its capture by Selivanov on 22nd March, had 
not been put in a state of defence. Inside the place were a niunber 
of guns captured from the Austrians, a quantity of supplies, and 
a good deal of rolling stock, which had accumulated in the great 
junction. Such materials cannot be removed in a few hours, and 
it was Russia's aim to hold Przemysl long enough to permit her to 
get them clear away by the Lemberg railway. Ivanov was well 
aware of the danger of the salient, and had no sentimental desire 
to hold the fortress. All he asked for was a week or so to complete 
its evacuation. From the 20th of May till Wednesday, the 2nd of 
June, the work of clearance went on, while Mackensen hammered 
at the western forts and the river line as far as Jaroslav, and 


Boroevdtch attempted to force the southern re-entrant, or at any 
rate get the Lemberg railway under his lEire. Marwitz, on his right, 
made no progress, being held up by the impassable marshes of the 
Dniester between Drohobycz and Komamo. Mackensen succeeded 
in crossing the San at Radjonno, just below its junction with the 
little river Wisnia, a success which made the neck of the Przemysl 
salient no more than twelve miles across. But meantime the 
Russian right pushed the Archduke Joseph out of Sieniawa and 
Lezachow, forced him in some places back across the San, and 
threatened the flank of Mackensen's position at Radymno. The 
consequence was that what might have been a most dangerous 
attack upon the northern re-entrant was for the moment foiled. 
It was clear that Mackensen had weakened the armies on both 
sides of him for the attack upon the sahent itself. 

The days of Przemysl were now numbered. The Austro- 
German lines were pressing in on three sides, and during the last two 
days of May the outer defences began to crumble. By the evening 
of Monday, 31st May, Bavarian infantry had carried the northern 
forts, and on the Tuesday afternoon the southern forts were evacu- 
ated. At 3.30 on the morning of Wednesday, 2nd June, Mackensen 
entered the city. The Russians had held it a little over two months. 
Germany was enabled to hand back to her ally her chief fortress, 
and thereby greatly strengthen Austria's loyalty to the alliance. 
But it is needless to rate the exploit too high. The recapture of 
Przemysl was without military significance except as an incident 
in the Russian retreat. No booty to speak of fell into Austro- 
German hands. The rolling stock, the stores, and most of the 
captured guns had gone eastward, and only a few useless pieces 
remained to be magnified in German communiques into an arsenal 
of artillery. 

We can now see something of the method of the great German 
advance. Mackensen's phalanx travelled slowly. The wings 
pushed out beyond the centre, and against them the Russians 
fought delaying actions with some success. But so soon as the 
heavy guns arrived retreat became necessary, and only the forti- 
fications of Przemysl enabled the Russian centre to make so long 
a stand. It was this slowness of the phalanx which enabled 
Przemysl to be evacuated with little loss. One result of the 
method was a constant shifting of the main centre of operations. 
Now it was Jaroslav, now the southern re-entrant, now the western 
front of the salient, and, after Przemysl's fall, it travelled many 
miles to the south. While the great machine was getting in order 


for a further movement, it fell to another army to take the next 
step in the offensive. 

It was the turn of Linsingen. Stryj fell to him on Tuesday, ist 
June, after an attack in which a division of the Prussian Guard 
played the main part. The place was important as a railway 
centre, and Brussilov seems to have held on too long, for he lost 
some guns and several thousand prisoners. The fall of Przemysl 
a day later compelled an alteration in the Russian front. It now 
ran west of the lower San, crossing to the east bank below Radymno, 
and following the valley of the Wisnia, west of Mosciska, tiU it 
reached the Dniester, west of the great marshes. After that its 
line was the caiion of the Dniester till it dipped south by Stanislau 
and Nadwoma to the Pruth. On Monday, 7th June, Linsingen 
forced the crossing of the Dniester at Zuravno, and occupied the 
high ground north of the river. The place was the key to the river 
line. The Stryj, descending from the Carpathians and passing 
the town of that name, enters the Dniester at Zydaczow, a village 
which marks the eastern end of the main Dniester marshes. To 
cross there meant that an army had to ford both the Stryj and the 
Dniester, which run for a short way parallel before they join. 
East of Zydaczow is a lesser belt of marsh, and then comes 
Zurawno, with firm land on both sides, an easy ford, and good 
roads from railhead. Linsingen chose his front well, forced a 
passage, and got the bulk of his army across. Count Bothmer 
commanded the main advance, and succeeded in taking the nor- 
thern heights and advancing some way into the forests towards 
the railway from Stryj to Tamopol. He was now little more 
than forty miles as the crow flies from Lemberg. 

On 8th June Brussilov turned and caught him. It was the 
story so familiar in these campaigns, a repetition of what happened 
at Augustovo in September and at Kazimirjev in October. The 
German machine got too far from its railways, its guns and ammuni- 
tion travelled too slowly by the bad country roads, and the more 
mobile Russians caught it at a disadvantage. Bothmer, in a 
three days' battle, was flung back across the Dniester with heavy 
loss. But this success could have no influence upon the general 
situation. About the same time Pflanzer-Baltin began to move 
in the east, and he had against him a force much depleted to supply 
reinforcements for the centre. Linsingen's right forced a crossing 
of the Dniester at Zaleszky above Halicz ; Pflanzer-Baltin pushed 
Lechitski from the Pruth to the Dniester, took Stanislau, and near 
Czernovitz forced the entire Russian left back to the Russian 


frontier. Meanwhile Mackensen's phalanx was again moving, 
this time in a north-easterly direction. He cleared the Russians 
from the San between Sieniawa and Jaroslav, and, pivoting on 
Sieniawa, swung round his right towards Mosciska. In this advance 
he took many prisoners, for the sudden change of direction made 
the Russian retirement difficult. At first the line of the Lubac- 
zowka was held, and thence by Mosciska to the Dniester. But 
here there could be no continuance. On 14th June Marwitz 
captured Mosciska, and the whole Russian centre began to retire 
on the famous Grodek positions. Evert was now back from 
Opatov and Ostrovietz, and approaching the left bank of the Vis- 
tula, the right centre was on the San and the Tanev, the centre 
among the Grodek ponds, and Brussilov and Lechitski along the 
Dniester as far as the frontier. 

The Grodek position was a line of shallow, swampy lakes, in 
all some fifteen miles long. Few roads crossed the tangle, and the 
place was impregnable to most armies. It was the district where 
the Russian commanders anticipated that Auffenberg would make 
a stand after the capture of Lemberg in September. But such a 
position, if it cannot be forced, can be turned, and Ivanov was 
unable to hold it now for the same reason as Auffenberg in the 
autumn. Then Russki had turned it on the north, and now 
Mackensen followed the same strategy. Lemberg was doomed as 
soon as the phalanx forced the Sieniawa- Jaroslav line, and swung 
its right towards Mosciska. Moving along the Jaroslav-Rava Russka 
railway, it was certain, unless checked, to outflank the Lemberg 
defence on the north. Boroevitch advanced against Grodek, Lin- 
singen and Pfianzer-Baltin battled for the Dniester crossings, but 
the operative part of the movement was that of the great phalanx, 
advancing steadily north-east across the Lubaczowka, in a country 
where there could be no real defence short of the valley of the Bug. 

By the i6th the army of the Archduke Joseph had compelled 
a Russian retreat from the east bank of the lower San, and was 
already, in part, inside the borders of Russian Poland, with its 
right nearing Tarnogrod. Mackensen was moving on a broad front 
towards Rava Russka, while Boroevitch advanced directly upon 
the Grodek position. The evacuation of Lemberg had begun, and 
thousands of passports were issued for Russia. On the 17th 
Mackensen's right was in the town of Javorov. On the 19th his 
advance guard was very near Rava Russka, the scene of the Russian 
victory in September, and Linsingen had forced the crossing of 
the Dniester at Nizniov. On Sunday, the 20th, there was a fierce 

1915] FALL OF LEMBERG. 109 

battle for Rava Russka, and by the evening the Russians had been 
driven north of the road and railway which connected the town 
with Lemberg by way of Zolkiev. Late that evening Rava Russka 
and Zolkiev were in Mackensen's hands. 

The key of Lemberg had been won, and the Grodek position was 
turned. That night the Russians fell back in good order from the 
Grodek lakes, and at the same time Brussilov evacuated the ground 
he had held south of the Dniester between the marshes and the 
mouth of the Stryj. The upper Dniester position was obviously 
untenable, and Halicz was now the western limit of the Russian 
stand on that river. The centre fell back east of Lemberg to a 
line between the upper waters of the Bug and the Gnila Lipa, the 
very position which Dmitrieff had stormed before the capture of the 
city in September. The way to Lemberg was open, and on the 
afternoon of Tuesday, 22nd June, the IV. Army of Boehm-Ermolli 
entered without opposition. It was a proud moment for the 
Austrian general, to whom Germany gave the privilege of first 
entry. After nine months the capital of Galicia was once more in 
Austrian hands. Lemberg was worth a score of Przemysls both 
in sentimental and practical value. It controlled a network of 
lines, and was the last post of a civihzed railway system before 
the Russian frontier was reached with its two barren routes of 
communication. The Power which held Lemberg held a strong 
fortress against any invasion from the east, for it had six lines 
whereby to bring up supports to one at the disposal of the invader. 
With the fall of Lemberg the reconquest of Galicia was complete. 

If we take the 21st day of June as a viewpoint, we find Ivanov's 
forces in the following position. Evert was back near the west 
bank of the middle Vistula, running from west of Radom to the 
junction of the Vistula and the San. The Russian line ran along 
the east bank of the San and the north bank of the Tanev, and 
thence south of Zamosc to the valley of the Bug. It left the Bug at 
Kamionka, and continued due south by Przemyslany and down the 
Gnila Lipa to Halicz, on the Dniester, whence it followed that river 
to the Russian frontier. In the seven weeks of fighting it had 
suffered heavy losses. Dmitrieff 's original army of the Donajetz 
had been much shattered, as had also been Brussilov's wing ; 
but before the San was reached both forces had been renewed by 
some of the picked corps from Alexeiev's northern command. We 
may, therefore, regard the armies which lay in position on 21st 
June as weary, depleted, but still unbroken forces. Ever since 
the San the retreat had been premeditated. 


With the fall of Lemberg the second great stage begins of the 
Austro-German offensive. The thrust had succeeded brilliantly 
up to a point, but Mackensen's problem was not the clearing of 
territory, but a culminating blow at the heart of the Russian posi- 
tion. Let us be clear as to what this signified. We have seen 
already the nature of the Polish salient, the wedge of Russian 
territory thrust out between Galicia and East Prussia. But there 
was an inner salient, which was the vital one. Warsaw was at its 
apex, and the northern side was the railway running by Bialystok 
and Grodno to Petrograd ; the southern was the line by Ivangorod, 
Lublin, Cholm, Kovel, and Rovno to Kiev. If the northern or 
southern line were cut Warsaw must fall ; if both were pierced, 
then the whole Russian force must fall back behind the Polish 
Triangle, and not improbably behind the marshes of Pripet. The 
capture of Lemberg was only an incident in Mackensen's sudden 
swing to the north-east ; his main object was an attack upon 
the Warsaw-Kiev line. Accordingly, Ivanov in his retreat saw to 
it that the railway was covered. He was still not closer to it at 
any point than fifty miles, and it provided him with what Mackensen 
now lacked, a good line of lateral communication. 

Meanwhile there had been activity at other parts of the Eastern 
front. In the middle of May the Germans were in strength 
on the Dubissa, twenty miles from Kovno. Libau had fallen to 
them on gth May, they had reached the Windawa, and throughout 
May and early June they made steady progress in the Courland 
province. They attacked north of Przasnysz towards the Narev 
line, and on 6th June they made a violent but ineffective gas assault 
upon the Rawka position. These attacks were part of a persistent 
pressure along the whole front to prevent Russia reinforcing her 
harassed southern command. But the time was drawing nigh 
when the assault on the southern side of the Polish salient was to 
be balanced by a no less fierce assault on the north. The crisis 
was not yet, and before the armies of Russia still lay a long season 
of peril and heart-searching and suffering. In her extremity her 
behaviour commanded the admiration of the world. She had 
been equable in success, and she was no less calm and resolute 
in misfortune. She was like that English worthy of whom Fuller 
wrote : " Had one seen him returning from a victory, he would 
by his silence have suspected that he had lost the day ; and had 
he beheld him in retreat, he would have collected him a conqueror 
by the cheerfulness of his spirit." 


April 26- August 21, 1915. 

Sonnino's Diplomacy — The Treaty of London — Italy declares War en Austria- 
Italy's Strategic Position — The First Engagements on the Frontiers — The 
Beginning of the Isonzo Campaign — Italy declares War on Turkey. 

In an earlier chapter we glanced at the political situation in Italy 
during the first months of war. The country seemed to the foreign 
observer almost equally divided between the two parties who bore 
the names of Interventionists and Neutralists. The latter class 
was composed of the extreme clericals, who distrusted France and 
Russia on religious grounds, a small aristocratic section who saw 
in Germany a bulwark against socialism, the extreme socialists 
who followed a pacificist and anti-national tradition, and a great 
body of ordinary middle-class people who asked only for a quiet 
life. Much of the capital employed in the development of North 
Italy was German ; the banking system was largely in German 
hands ; and at first it seemed as if the commercial interests of the 
country would be strongly ranged on the side of neutrality. To 
the prudent Italian his land seemed but ill-prepared for war. 
She was still a young nation, imperfectly integrated : she had 
neither coal nor iron ; for much of her food and shipping she 
depended on foreign states; she had no great accumulations of 
capital, and the burden of her taxation even in peace was severe. 
Against this stood the potent tradition of the Risorgimento, a 
national antipathy to the Teutonic character, and a popular revulsion 
against the barbarism and arrogance of Germany's creed. 

The situation was complicated by what seemed a parliamentary 
stalemate. In March 1914 Antonio Salandra had succeeded Gio- 
vanni Giolitti as Premier. He was believed to have favoured 
war from the start ; but his Foreign Secretary, the Marquis 



di San Giuliano, had leanings towards Germany, and this fact 
was instrumental in maintaining neutrahty. In December San 
Giuliano died, and was succeeded in office by Baron Sidney Son- 
nino, in whose ancestry there were Jewish and British elements. 
Sonnino had been twice Premier, and had done much by his up- 
right and straightforward methods to purify public life and to 
restore the economic prosperity of his country. In accomplish- 
ments and character he was one of the most remarkable figures in 
the public life of Europe. Renowned as a scholar, a philosopher, 
and a financier, he despised the common arts of the politician, and 
his cold exterior and stiffness of manner, the result of his detestation 
of popularity-hunting, caused him to be easily outstripped by his 
rivals in the ordinary parliamentary game. His was the type of mind 
and temperament which is realized and fully valued only at a time of 
national crisis. On the other side stood Giolitti, four times Premier, 
and the most powerful political influence in Italy. Of the 508 
members of the Chamber of Deputies three-fifths were believed 
to be his followers. Though he supported Salandra, it looked as 
if he held the Ministry in the hollow of his hand. Enthusiasm 
was foreign to his nature ; he was an opportunist, and not without 
reason, like the majority of his countrymen. He desired certain 
gains for his nation, but preferred bargaining to war. 

Sonnino's appearance at the Foreign Office meant the begin- 
ning of a long and intricate diplomatic duel, in which the Italian 
Minister conducted his case with remarkable skill and discretion. 
Early in December he took his stand upon the terms of the Triple 
Alliance, especially Article VII.* That clause, he reminded 
Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, bound 
Austria not to occupy any Balkan territory without a previous 
agreement with Italy, and without adequately compensating her. 
Italy had the deepest interest in preserving the integrity and inde- 

* " Austria-Hungary and Italy, who have solely in view the maintenance, as far 
as possible, of the territorial status quo in the East, engage themselves to use their 
influence to prevent all territorial changes which might be disadvantageous to the 
one or the other of the Powers signatory of the present Treaty. To this end they will 
give reciprocally all information calculated to enlighten each other concerning their 
own intentions and those of other Powers. Should, however, the case arise that, in 
the course of events, the maintenance of the status quo in the territory of the Balkans 
or of the Ottoman coasts and islands in the Adriatic or the /Egean Seas becomes 
impossible, and that, either in consequence of the action of a third Power or for any 
other reason, Austria-Hungary or Italy should be obliged to change the status quo 
for their part by a temporary or permanent occupation, such occupation would only 
take place after previous agreement between the two Powers, which would have 
to be based upon the principle of a reciprocal compensation for all territorial or other 
advantages that either of them might acquire over and above the existing status quo, 
and would have to satisfy the interests and rightful claims of both parties." 


pendence of Serbia : Austria had invaded Serbia, and so disturbed 
the whole pohtical gravity of the Balkans ; compensation was due 
to Italy, and he invited Austria to discuss its terms. Count Berch- 
told replied that Italy could have no grievance, because the Aus- 
trian occupation of Serbian territory was " neither temporary nor 
permanent, but momentary." Upon this Sonnino reminded him 
that in April 1912 Austria had protested against the Italian bom- 
bardment of the Dardanelles, and had prohibited even the use of 
searchlights against the Turkish coast. She had declared that 
such acts were an infringement of Article VII., and threatened 
that " if the Italian Government desired to regain its liberty of 
action the Austro-Hungarian Government would do the same." 

The diplomatic honours at this point lay with Sonnino. Prince 
Billow, the German ex-Chancellor, was hurried to Rome, and a 
complex game of intrigue began. The aim of the Austrian diplo- 
matists was to play for time, but Sonnino pinned them to the ques- 
tion — " What compensations are you prepared to offer for a breach 
of the Triple Alliance which you are obliged to admit ? " Austria 
was willing enough to offer these from other people's territory, 
but this Italy declined to consider. Germany now took a hand. 
Her offers of Corsica, Savoy, Tunis, Malta were smilingly put aside. 
Prince Wedel, who was at Vienna, then pressed Austria to sur- 
render the Trentino, and Biilow at Rome urged Sonnino not to 
ask for Trieste. Meanwhile Italy was putting her army on a war 
basis, and throughout the winter bought large quantities of military 
stores. In February 1915 the Chamber met, and the dullness of 
the sittings led to a general opinion that Biilow had succeeded. 
In March rumours of intervention revived with the activity of the 
Allied fleets in the Dardanelles. Italians in America began to 
close their German accounts, and many Germans in Italy made 
preparations for departure. 

On 9th March Baron Burian, who had succeeded Count Berch- 
told, under pressure from Germany accepted the principle that 
compensation must be made from Austrian territory. Sonnino 
replied that the negotiations must take place at once, and must 
be between Italy and Austria, without any German intervention. 
Biilow tried threats, and drew tragic pictures of the consequences 
to Italy of a war with the Teutonic League ; but on 20th March 
he informed Sonnino that he had been authorized to guarantee 
in the name of Germany the execution of any agreement that 
might be concluded between Vienna and Rome. This touched 
the heart of the matter. Italy had insisted that the transference 


of any territories agreed upon must be made at once.* Austria 
demurred, and Germany offered to back her bills. But Sonnino 
very naturally asked what good the guarantee would be if the 
Teutonic League were defeated. He might have added that, after 
recent experience of Germany's public honour, it would be no more 
than a scrap of paper in the event of her victory. 

April was devoted by Austria and Germany to manoeuvring 
for position. The Chamber had been adjourned till 12th May, 
and Germany tried to intimidate Italy by spreading rumours of 
an impending separate peace between herself and Russia. Sonnino 
replied by setting forth his demands in the shape of a draft treaty, 
under which the Trentino and several Dalmatian islands would 
have become Italy's, and the Istrian coast and Trieste would have 
been occupied by her, pending their constitution after the war as 
an autonomous state. These proposals were declined by Vienna 
on i6th April. On 26th April the secret Treaty of London was 
signed by Italy, France, Russia, and Britain, f By this pact the 
Allies undertook to pay Italy a far higher price than anything which 
the Teutonic League could offer. The urgency of their need is shown 
by this extraordinary document, which not only divided the bear's 
skin before the bear was killed, but jettisoned many of the traditional 

• The concessions which Austria was willing to make were, according to the 
German Imperial Chancellor, as follows : — 

1. The part of Tyrol inhabited by Italians to be ceded to Italy. 

2. Likewise the western bank of the Isonzo in so far as the population is purely 
Italian, and the town of Gradisca. 

3. Trieste to be made an Imperial free city, receiving an administration ensuring 
an Italian character to the city, and to have an Italian university. 

4. The recognition of Itahan sovereignty over Aviona and the sphere of interests 
belonging thereto. 

5. Austria-Hungary declares her political disinterestedness regarding Albania. 

6. The national interests of Italian nationals in Austria-Hungary to be particu- 
larly respected. 

7. Austria-Hungary grants an amnesty for political or military criminals who 
are natives of the ceded territories. 

8. The further wishes of Italy regarding general questions to be assured of every 

9. Austria-Hungary, after the conclusion of the agreement, to give a solemn 
declaration concerning the concessions. 

10. Mixed committees for the regulation of details of the concessions to be 

11. After the conclusion of the agreement, Austro-Hungarian soldiers, natives 
of the occupied territories, shall not further participate in the war. 

It should be noted that these concessions differed materially from and were sub- 
stantially larger than those offered by Vienna (see Italian Green Book, 191 5). The 
conduct of the negotiations was in Germany's hands, and the above represented the 
extreme terms which she was confident that she could coerce Austria into granting. 

t The treaty would have been signed earlier but for the opposition of Russia. 
See Kitihener's telegram to the Grand Duke Nicholas, Life, III., p. 349 n. 


prejudices of the signatories and not a few of the sound principles 
of European poKcy. In return for Italy's assistance she was prom- 
ised the Trentino, southern Tyrol up to the Brenner, Trieste, Istria 
up to the Quarnero, the province of Dalmatia and most of the 
Adriatic islands, and the Gulf of Valona ; in the ^gean the 
Dodecanese; in the event of a partition of Turkey a share equal 
to that of each of the other Allies in the Mediterranean basin ; a 
share in any war indemnity corresponding to the magnitude of 
her efforts and sacrifices ; compensation in Africa for any enlarge- 
ment of the colonial possessions of France and Britain at the 
expense of Germany ; and an immediate loan of fifty million 
sterling to be floated in London. Italy was to break with the 
Teutonic League within one month after the signature of the pact. 
On 3rd May Sonnino denounced the Triple Alliance, and it was 
decreed that no member of the Government must for the present 
leave Rome. 

Then came a political crisis. An important section of Gio- 
litti's followers began an agitation for accepting the Austro-German 
terms, and the attitude of their leader was doubtful. It was pos- 
sible that he might turn out the Government and become Premier 
with an anti-war policy. On 13th May Salandra placed his resig- 
nation in the King's hands, on the ground that his Ministry did 
not possess " that unanimous assent of the constitutional parties 
regarding its international policy which the gravity of the situation 
demands." He was already beaten in the Chamber, for Giolitti 
had more than 300 deputies behind him. But the Chamber did not 
represent the nation ; or rather it represented the nation on the 
cautious, cynical, and material side, which is only one phase of the 
Italian temper. Suddenly the discussion was transferred from 
Parhament to the people, and the essential idealism of Italy blazed 
forth and consumed the prudential webs. The intellect of the 
land, as represented by Croce and D'Annunzio, Fogazzaro, Ferrero 
and Marconi, had already ranged itself on the Allied side. The 
sinking of the Lusitania had aroused the wrath of a race which has 
no love for deliberate cruelty. Above all, the ordinary man felt that 
to bargain with Austria was to put his land in perpetual tutelage to 
an ancestral enemy. He realized that Italy's nationality was not 
yet complete, and that if she sacrificed thus her political inde- 
pendence the consummation of the work of Cavour, Garibaldi, and 
Marzini would be for ever impossible. The citizens of every Italian 
town went down soberly into their market-places crying death to 
Giolitti. D'Annunzio, whom the world had known as a hot-house 


poet, became suddenly a second Rienzi. His marvellous speeches, 
as perfect in form as any oration of Cicero, summoned his country- 
men to a conception of Italy's future far other than that expounded 
by the worldly-wise. " No, we are not, and we will not be a 
museum, an inn, a \dllage summer resort, a sky painted ■wath 
Prussian-blue for international honeymoon couples, a delightful 
market for buying and selling, fraud and barter." Before the 
popular whirlwind of those "days of May" the Neutralists 
cowered and broke. Salandra's resignation was refused by the 
King, and he returned to office ; Biilow hastened beyond the Alps, 
and Giolitti retired to his estate in Piedmont. 

On 2oth May the Chamber, by 407 votes to 74, passed a bill 
conferring full powers on the Government in the event of war. 
On the 22nd a general mobilization was ordered. On the 23rd 
Italy declared war upon Austria.* Baron von Macchio in Rome 
was handed his passports, and the Duke of Avarna was recalled 
from Vienna. That day the first shots were fired by the frontier 
guards in the north. 

The Italian Foreign Minister's brilliant handling of the negotia- 
tions had put Italy technically in the right. She went to war on 
grounds fully justified by the public law of Europe. But the dis- 
cussions were in reality academic, for the dominating reasons lay 
elsewhere. WTiere would Italy have been had Germany triumphed ? 
Supposing she had got the territory she had asked for, how long 
would she have kept it in face of a victorious Germany, which 
would regard these concessions as ha\'ing been forced from her 
under duress ? And if she had reUed on Germany's bond, she had 
some reason to doubt the strength of a pledge given by a Power 
whose declared international ethics were anarchy. These were 
considerations which were of supreme importance even to those 
who took the most mercantile view of national interests. In all 
Sonnino's dialectical finesse there was a certain unreality, for he 
aimed at making not a bargain but a breach. He exacted, it is 
true, a high price for his final decision, but in the case of a poor 
and ill-equipped country it may well be argued that it was the duty 
of a statesman thus to safeguard her interests. Italy's allegiance 
was of immense market value. Had she joined her colleagues of 
the Triplice in August 19 14 there would have been no Battle of 
the Marne, for, as Bismarck once said, an Italian bugler posted on 
the French frontier would immobilize four of France's army corps. 

• The following day was popularly regarded as the opening of the war — that 
Veniiquattro Maggio which will remain a marked day in Italian annals. 

1915] ITALY'S PROBLEM. 117 

When she joined the Allies in May she menaced the flank of Austria- 
Hungary. And let it be remembered that the making of war was 
in the last resort the work of the plain citizen, who had never 
heard of the Treaty of London. 

She had amply vindicated herself in the eyes of the world. So 
far from coming to the succour of the victor, she had joined the 
Allies when their prospects were darkening. As she marched to 
the Isonzo, Mackensen was driving the Russians to the San ; and 
at Ypres, in the West, the British had suffered grievously. The 
Dardanelles expedition had not succeeded, and to the eyes of most 
men its prospects were cloudy. We cannot judge the temper of 
a nation by its formal diplomacy or by its parliamentary debates, 
and in Italy as war opened there flamed up a popular enthusiasm 
which had very Uttle care for material rewards. The Irredentist 
tradition was less one of territorial enlargement than of racial 
liberation. The nation desired to wipe out the memories of Cus- 
tozza and Lissa and of the darker days before, but they also fought 
in the cause of European liberty. It was such a crusade as Mazzini 
would have sanctioned, that wise idealist who wrote : " War is a 
fact, and will be a fact for some time to come, and, though dreadful 
in itself, is very often the only way of helping Right against brutal 
Force." In the spirit of Garibaldi and his Thousand, Italy en- 
tered upon her latest war of liberation, as in the ancient davs 
when the streets of her cities heard the war-cry : " Popolo : Popolo ; 
muoiano i tiranni." 

A parallel might be drawn between the antecedents of the 
Itahan kingdom and those of the modem German Empire. Both 
in their present form were less than half a century old. Both had 
been built up round the nucleus of a long-descended monarchy, and 
the House of Savoy had curious points of kinship with the House of 
Hohenzollern. Its rulers ascended from being Counts of Savoy 
to being Kings of Sardinia and then Kings of Italy, as the Hohen- 
zoUerns were first Electors of Brandenburg, then Kings of Prussia, 
and then German Emperors. William II. of Germany and Victor 
Emmanuel III. of Italy were each the third of their line to hold their 
high positions. But the military strength of the two states had 
not developed on the same Hues. Italy's problem since 1S70 had 
been one of peculiar difficulty. Her creation as a kingdom had 
left her with an unsatisfactory northern frontier. The additions 
of Lombardy and Venetia to the dominions of Savoy had been 
acquired less by overmastering victories in the field than by the 


diplomatic difficulties in which Austria at the moment found her- 
self. The French victories in 1859 were discounted by the Emperor 
Napoleon's divided aims, and Venetia was ceded because of the 
Prussian victory at Sadowa, though Austria had been successful 
in her Italian campaign. In this acquisition, therefore, Italy 
exhausted her purchase ; the situation was too delicate to insist 
upon that rectification of boundaries which would have made 
them secure. All the Alpine passes and all the crossings of the 
Isonzo were left in Austrian hands. Accordingly she could not be 
otherwise than anxious about the north. Again, her population 
was from the military point of view curiously heterogeneous. 
Districts differed in their military value as widely as Sparta differed 
from Corinth. These circumstances — the overwhelming strategic 
importance of the north and the mixed character of the recruits 
— made it impossible to follow the German plan of an army on a 
territorial basis. A regiment was recruited from all parts of the 
country, but on mobilization reservists joined that regiment which 
happened to be quartered in their district. In time of war, there- 
fore, about half of those serving had no previous connection with 
the units in which they served. 

Service was universal and compulsory, and the liability began 
at the age of twenty, and lasted for nineteen years. Recruits 
were divided into three classes. The first formed the first line ; 
the second were also regulars, but with unlimited leave ; while 
the third passed into the Territorial militia. The second class — 
corresponding to the German Ersatz Reserve — received a few 
months' annual training for eight years, and then passed into the 
Mobile Militia and the Territorial Mihtia. The third class received 
only thirty days' annual training. The first class — the first line 
of the regular army — served for two years with the colours, six 
in the Reserve, four in the Mobile Militia, and the remaining seven 
in the Territorial Militia. The unit of organization was the army 
corps, which consisted normally of two divisions. Each division 
comprised two brigades of infantry and a regiment — five batteries 
— of field artillery. A brigade contained two regiments, and a 
regiment three battalions. The peace establishment showed twelve 
army corps, half of which had their stations near the northern 
frontier. A cavalry division consisted of two brigades of two regi- 
ments each, and two batteries of horse artillery ; there were 
twenty-nine cavalry regiments on the peace establishment. The 
light infantry was the Bersaglieri, corresponding to the French 
Chasseurs and the German Jagers. A regiment of four Bersaglieri 

1915] THE ITALIAN ARMY. rig 

battalions — three of infantry and one of cyclists — was part of 
each army corps. Two other formations must be noted. The 
six battalions of the Carabinieri were a force of military police, 
selected from the regular army. The Alpini — twenty-six battalions 
of the first line, organized in eight regiments, with thirty-six bat- 
teries of mountain artillery — were special frontier troops for the 
defence of the northern borders. The line regiments suffered to 
some extent from the best men being taken for the picked corps 
of Bersaglieri and Alpini. 

The peace strength of the army of Italy in the year before the 
war was approximately 15,000 officers and 290,000 other ranks. 
On mobiHzation a division of Mobile Mihtia was added to each 
corps, bringing up its strength to 37,000 men and 134 guns. The 
war strength was approximately 700,000 in the first line — that is, 
from the two classes of the regular army — and 320,000 in the 
Mobile Militia, with a reserve of something over 2,000,000 in 
the Territorial Militia. Italy's field force might, therefore, be 
reckoned at something over 1,000,000 trained men. Her field 
artillery was armed with a 75-mm. gun, and she had a large number 
of batteries of Krupp howitzers, and a siege train of very high 

The Italian Commander-in-Chief was King Victor Emmanuel, 
a monarch whose gallantry and straightforward simplicity had 
won him a high degree of popular confidence. The Chief of the 
General Staff and the Generalissimo in the field was General Count 
Luigi Cadorna, a native of Pallanza, and a man of sixty-five at 
the outbreak of war. He was the son of that Rafaele Cadorna 
who, in September 1S70, led the Italian army into Papal territory 
and blew in the Porta Pia. He had served on his father's staff 
during that expedition, had commanded the loth Bersaglieri, had 
been a corps commander at Genoa, and had succeeded General 
PoUio in 1914 as Chief of the General Staff. He had won fame 
throughout Europe as a writer on military science, and he had a 
unique knowledge of the terrain of the coming war. As Hinden- 
burg had studied the East Prussian bogs, so had Cadorna mastered 
the intricacies of Italy's northern frontier. 

A word must be added on the Italian navy, which now took 
over from France the task of holding Austria in the Adriatic. It 
contained four Dreadnoughts, and two more were on the verge of 
completion. These ships were all armed with 12-inch guns. It 
possessed also ten pre-Dreadnought battleships and a number of 
older vessels. Its armoured cruisers were none of them faster 


than 22 knots, but it contained three very fast light cruisers, as 
well as twenty submarines, a large number of torpedo boats, and 
forty destroyers. At the lowest computation it showed a con- 
siderable superiority over the fleet of Austria-Hungary. The 
Admiral-in-Chief was the first cousin of the King, the Duke of the 
Abruzzi— perhaps, after the Grand Duke Nicholas and King Albert 
of Belgium, the most brilhant member of any reigning house in the 
world. A man of forty-two, he had won fame as an explorer, a 
mountaineer, and a scientific geographer. He had shown extraor- 
dinary skill in organizing expeditions in the most difficult latitudes 
from Alaskan and Himalayan snows to the mountain jungles of 
Ruwenzori, and in the Tripoli War had commanded with distinc- 
tion a division of the Italian fleet. 

The strategic position of Italy was disadvantageous. The 
strategy of Cadorna was determined perforce by hard geographical 
facts, and it is necessary to examine the configuration of the Italian- 
Austrian frontier. Its length of about 480 miles fell naturally 
into three parts — the re-entrant angle of the Trentino ; the great 
wall of the Dolomites, the Camic and the Julian Alps ; and the 
space on the east between the main Alpine chain and the Adriatic. 
The Trentino forms a salient the sides of which are mountain but- 
tresses. It is drained towards the south by the Adige and the Sarca, 
which flows into Lake Garda, An enemy attempting its conquest 
must advance principally by the Adige valley, and would presently 
find himself confronted with the strongly fortified town of Trent, 
which in the Middle Ages so long defied the attacks of Venice. If 
Trent were safely passed, he would struggle for long in a wilderness 
of lateral valleys, and would still have to force the main ridge of the 
chain at the Brenner, Now, a salient may be a cause of weakness in 
war, as Russia found in western Poland, for it is open to assault on 
both flanks. But the containing walls of the Trentino make flank 
attacks all but impossible. On the western side, high up in the 
hills, is the Stelvio Pass, leading from the upper Adige to the vale 
of the Adda, Over this pass in 1797 an Austrian detachment had 
crossed, but this was the only record of its passage by troops.* 
It is the loftiest carriage pass in the Alps, more than 9,000 feet 
high, and even if a modem army could win its strait defiles it 
would find itself in a lateral valley, with many difficulties before 
it ere it reached Bozen and the main road to the north. Going 
south, we find the Tonale Pass, south of the Ortler massif, which 

* Dessolles' passage in March 1799 was made by the adjacent Wurmser Joch, 
800 feet lower, which leads into Swiss territory. 


carries the road from the Noce to the Ogho ; but for a great army 
that was Httle better. Close to Lake Garda is the road pass of 
Comelle, too narrow in its debouchments for any considerable 
force. On the eastern side of the sahent the conditions were still 
worse for invasion. The railway from Venice to Innsbruck crosses 
the Valsugana at Tezze, but the Brenta valley which it traverses 
gives a difficult road to Trent. Farther north the road-pass from 
Caprile to Campitello leads into the defiles of the Dwarf King's 
Rose-garden — a possible passage, for these passes of the western 
Dolomites are bare and open, but one useless for an invader, 
since the road bends away to Bozen, and there is no route north 
to the Pusterthal. The sahent of the Trentino was a fine offen- 
sive and defensive position for those who held it. It was a 
hollow headland of mountain jutting into the plains, and it was 
hard for the plain-dwellers to pierce its rim. The deep hollow 
of the Lake of Garda was no real opening in the barrier. The 
breach, so far from weakening the defence, was in reality a 
source of strength, for it compelled an attack from the Itahan 
plain to be made on divergent Unes from different bases, east 
and west of the lake. 

The second part is a shallow arc of sheer rampart — the Dolomite 
and Camic ranges. The main pass is that of Ampezzo, where the 
great highroad known as the Strada d'AlIemagna runs from Belluno 
to Toblach through the heart of the white limestone crags at an 
altitude of httle over 5,000 feet. But between Cortina and Toblach 
it makes a sharp detour westward to circumvent the mass of 
Cristallo, and that part is a defile commanded by a hundred danger 
points. The adjacent passes of Misurina and Monte Croce are 
no better, and as we go east the Val d'lnferno and the Plocken arc 
little more than bridle paths. The main pass in the chain is that 
which leads from the valley of the Fella by Pontebba to the upper 
streams of the Drave. It carries the railway from Venice to Vienna, 
and its highest point is onl}' 2,615 feet. It was the old highroad 
of invasion from the north ; but, though the easiest of the great 
routes, it was still narrow and difficult, a gate which a modem army 
should with ease be able to close and hold. South-east of it among 
the buttresses of the Julian Alps there was no pass of any military 

The third section of the frontier, destined to be the main theatre 
of the war — the low ground between Cividale and the sea — was 
not the natural avenue of movement which small-scale maps 
suggested. It is a narrow front, less than twenty miles wide, and 


behind it is the line of the river Isonzo, with hills along its eastern 
bank. The upper part of the stream above Salcano is a ravine ; 
then come six miles of plain in front of Gorizia ; then the hills 
begin again and sweep round to the sea-coast by Monfalcone. The 
value of such a position for the defence was obvious. A strong field 
force with a full complement of artillery could make of the Isonzo 
a front as impregnable as any river Une in Europe. 

For a modern army the natural strength of a position is not 
enough ; there must be adequate lateral communications. In 
this respect Italy had the advantage, for she had the elaborate 
railway system of her northern plains behind her, while Austria 
had onty the restricted railways of mountain valleys. The main 
Italian line ran from Verona by Vicenza and Treviso to Udine. It 
sent off numerous branches up to the base of the hills — from Verona 
up the Adige, from Vicenza to Torrebelvicino, from CittadeUa to 
the Valsugana, from Treviso up the Piave to Belluno, from Udine 
to Pontebba, and from Udine to Cividale. It was backed by a 
coast railway, and between the two there were many connecting 
branches. Austria possessed a railway system running round the 
whole half-moon of frontier, but it had few feeders, for the hill 
valleys in which it lay made branches difficult. From west to 
east it ran from the point of the Trentino salient by Trent and 
Bozen to Franzenfeste, then east along the Pusterthal by Lienz and 
Spital to Villach. It then bent back from the frontier, ran down 
the upper Save, rounded the massif of Monte Nero, and descended 
to Gorizia, where it connected by two routes with Trieste. This 
encircling line was well fed from its main bases, like Innsbruck, 
Salzburg, Vienna, and Trieste, but it sent off very few branches 
to the edge of the frontier. One ran from Trent to the Valsugana ; 
after that there was nothing for 150 miles till Tarvis was reached, 
when the Pontebba line began. Branches went west from Gorizia 
to Udine, and from Monfalcone to San Giorgio, and these four were 
the only feeders on the Austrian side of the border. This paucity 
of branch Hues meant that any Austrian offensive must concentrate 
at certain definite places — Trent, Tarvis, and Gorizia. It meant 
conversely that an Italian offensive must aim at the same points 
and at one more. This was Franzenfeste, the junction of the 
Pusterthal line with that which runs from Innsbruck to Trent. If 
that point could be taken the communications of the whole of the 
Trentino salient would be cut. Unfortunately for Italy, this 
nodal point of Franzenfeste was just the one which it was hardest 
to reach, for south and east of it stretched the whole complex 




1915] CADORNA'S TASK. 123 

system of the Dolomites. The long space without branch lines was 
as awkward for the one offensive as for the other. What seemed 
a lengthy and precarious Hne of communication was in reaUty 
defended by an almost insuperable mountain wall. 

The military history of that frontier during the past century was 
an exposition of the difficulties which Italy was now called upon 
to face. In 1797 Napoleon, having overrun Northern Italy the 
year before, resolved to force Austria to sue for peace by a threat 
against Vienna. He marched what we would now call a small 
army into Carinthia, where the country was open and defenceless. 
Austria had no adequate force with which to oppose him, and an 
armistice was concluded when he reached Klagenfurt. It was an 
easy victory, but the point to note is that he did not dare to cross 
the eastern frontier till he had pushed forward an army as strong 
as his own from Verona to Trent to protect his rear and his com- 
munications. The campaign of 1866 showed the strength of the 
Trentino position. In that year the Austrian commander, General 
Kuhn, left only small detachments to guard the passes, and kept 
his main force at Trent, which he made the pivot of his defence. 
He easily defeated the Garibaldian columns which attacked on 
both sides of the Lake of Garda and by the Tonale Pass. The main 
Italian advance was made from Padua up the Brenta valley, and 
this was not seriously opposed till it was near the watershed. 
There Kuhn was waiting with his reserves ; but the action was 
never fought, since the first shots had scarcely been fired when news 
came that an armistice had been signed at Vienna. But it was 
the general verdict at the time that if the forces had been engaged, 
Kuhn would have held his own. From the first he had been greatly 
outnumbered, but, thanks to his central position, he was always 
able to secure a local superiority against attacks made from widely 
divergent points. At that time, it must be remembered, the passes 
were not fortified, for the reason that Venetia had been Austrian 
territory for half a century, and the Trentino border was not a 
state frontier. Trent, too, was then an open town. Now the 
conditions were more favourable for the defence. An Italian 
army attacking the Trentino would have to fight its way up narrow 
valleys, all of which converged upon Trent, the central fortress. 
The defence would, therefore, be able to mass its reserves for a 
counter-attack against one line of advance after another, and need 
not strike till the invaders had already suffered heavily in breaking 
down the advanced fortifications of the passes. 

The problem before Cadorna was, therefore, by no means 


simple. Austria had her hands full in the Carpathians, and it 
was unlikely that she would be able to take that swift offensive 
for which her frontier had been designed. It was a sovereign 
chance for an Italian forward movement, and the direction of 
that movement was not in doubt. It must be mainly towards 
Trieste, the Istrian peninsula, and the wooded hills of Styria which 
sweep to Vienna. There Austria was most vulnerable, and there 
lay a terrain where modern armies could manoeuvre. But the 
configuration of the frontier made it impossible for a commander 
to direct all his forces upon one section. The whole northern 
border must be watched and held, else Austria from the Trentino 
salient might cut his communications and take him in the rear. 
Accordingly he resolved to attack at all the salient points — towards 
Trent, across the Dolomite passes against the Pusterthal railway, 
at the Pontebba Pass, across the Julian buttresses in order to 
threaten the Tarvis-Gorizia line. Such a series of movements 
would keep the enemy busy and prevent any flanking strategy. 
And meantime with his chief army he would strike at the Isonzo 
and the road to Trieste. 

Undoubtedly there was a chance of a swift and crushing attack, 
but to succeed such an attack must be made at once and be of the 
nature of a surprise, before Austria could use the natural strength 
of her frontier against it. But Italy suffered from two grave draw- 
backs. Her army was not yet ready for war, and her mobilization 
was slow ; and the dangers of the great northern salient compelled 
her to dissipate her efforts over too large a front. At first her hopes 
ran high. She remembered what Napoleon had done with 60,000 
men ; with 600,000 might she not speedily repeat the triumph of 
Leoben ?* But a rapid and decisive advance was difficult, since any 
attack towards the Isonzo had its flank turned by the configuration of 
the frontier, and it seemed necessary to have strong forces along the 
whole line from the Trentino to the Julian Alps. Cadorna assembled 
on the Isonzo his Third Army (six divisions of infantry and three 
of cavalry), and the Second Army (eight divisions). North of this 
he had the Camic detachment of twenty-nine battalions, and in the 
Dolomites his Fourth Army of six divisions. In the Trentino 
salient was the First Army of five divisions, and he had ten divi- 
sions of infantry and one of cavalry in reserve. His plan was an 

♦ See Capello's Note di Guerra, Vol. I. (1920). Austria's first intention was to 
inveigle the Italians into the eastern hills and concentrate her forces in the valleys 
of Villach-Klagenfurt and Laibach. This plan was vetoed by Germany as too 
dangerous, and she defended the frontier crests. Falkenhayn's General Headquarters, 
pp. 91-93. 

rgisj THE FIRST SHOTS. 125 

offensive on the Isonzo and a defensive on all other fronts, but the 
defensive must be in itself an attack, since positions for a secure 
defence had first to be won. It would have been wiser had he 
either taken greater risks and gambled more boldly in the Isonzo 
section, or been content to move at first slowly on all fronts 
and wait till a sustained effort was possible. As it was the 
chance of surprise was lost, and Austria was able to maintain 
her defence without seriously weakening her armies in Galicia and 

War began on 24th May, and the first serious blow was struck 
by the enemy. This was a well-organized raid on the Adriatic 
coast, the object of which was to delay the Italian concentration 
by damaging vital points on the coast railway from Brindisi to the 
north. The attack began a Uttle after four on the morning of 
Monday, 24th May, and was carried out by a squadron from Pola 
made up of two battleships, four cruisers, and some eighteen 
destroyers, strongly supported by aircraft. The Hne, which ran 
along the Adriatic shore, was at many points much exposed to 
attack from the water. Ancona station, for example, was on the 
high ground outside the town, and most of the river bridges were 
within sight of the sea. The assault extended from Brindisi to 
Venice, and at the latter place airmen threw bombs into the Arsenal 
and attacked the oil-tanks and the balloon sheds on the Lida. In 
the Western press the movement was interpreted only as a bar- 
barous attempt to send St. Mark's the way of Rheims and Louvain ; 
but it was in reality a serious military operation. In the north 
the cruiser Novara, with a flotilla of destroyers, attacked Porto 
Corsini, north of Ravenna, in the hope of wrecking the Italian 
torpedo-boat base. The destroyers were driven off, and one was 
seriously damaged. Farther south the cruiser St. George bom- 
barded the railway station and bridges at Rimini. In the centre 
the battleship Zrinyi attacked Sinigagha, and claimed to have 
wrecked the railway station and railway bridge and part of the 
railway line, while south of Ancona the battleship Radetzky wrecked 
the bridge over the Potenza River. In the south the cruisers 
Helgoland and Admiral Spaun, assisted by destroyers, attacked in 
the neighbourhood of Manfredonia and Viesti. They shelled a 
railway bridge, a railway station, and several signal stations, and 
did some damage to the coast towns. It was all over before 6 a.m., 
and the squadron sailed back to Pola in safety. The Italian fleet 
seems to have been taken by surprise, and the marauders were 


unmolested. It was a well-conceived and well-executed enter- 
prise, and achieved much of its purpose. 

On the same day, 24th May, the Austrians blew up two bridges 
in the Adige valley, thereby revealing their plan of campaign. 
They were resolved to stand on the defensive at the outset in the 
strong positions which fortune had given them. They would hold 
the crests of the passes along the frontier of the Trentino and the 
line of the Carnic Alps. On the Isonzo front they would abandon 
all the country west of the river line, and make their stand on a 
fortified line well to the east, which only touched the Isonzo at 
Gorizia, where they held a bridgehead on the western bank. 
Their best troops were busy in Galicia, and they had only Land- 
sturm and a few reserve divisions wherewith to meet the army of 
Italy. Their aim was to risk nothing till Mackensen had finished 
his Galician enterprise and first-line troops could be spared for 
this frontier. 

The slowness of the Italian mobilization meant that till the close 
of May the actions were only affairs of covering troops, and little 
ground was won except that which the Austrians voluntarily 
yielded. On the evening of the 24th the eastern force was well 
inside Austrian territory, its left pushed forward to Caporetto on the 
Isonzo just under Monte Nero, its centre looking down on Gorizia 
from the high ground between the Idria and the Isonzo, and its 
right between Cormons and Terzo. On the extreme right, among 
the islands of the coast, the Italian destroyers were busy. In the 
following week and onward till the end of the month the record was 
one of slow and cautious advance. It was a wet season, and the 
Isonzo, fed from the hills, floods easily, thereby making operations 
difficult when the enemy had destroyed the bridges. The Italian 
left about Caporetto was reinforced, preparatory to an attack on 
the height of Monte Nero, Italian aviators persistently bombarded 
Monfalcone and the railway between Gorizia and Trieste, in order 
to cut off supplies and reinforcements for the troops on the river 
line, while destroyers shelled the Monfalcone shipyards, and the 
coast town of Grado was taken. By the end of May the Isonzo had 
been reached, but had not been crossed, by the Italian army. In 
the central section of the frontier there was much scattered fighting, 
and the Italians succeeded in occupying several of the passes. On 
the 24th the Val d'lnferno pass at the head of the Degano valley 
was carried by a bayonet attack. More important was the capture, 
on the 30th, of Cortina, on the great Strada d'Allemagna. The place 
was not more than fifteen miles as the crow flies from the Fran- 

1915] THE ISONZO FRONT. 127 

zenfeste-Villach railway, but in these fifteen miles were included 
the highest peaks of the Dolomites, and the road — one of the finest 
in Europe — ran through a canon which gave every advantage to 
the defence. The Trentino fighting began also on the 24th. De- 
tachments on that day pushed forward to the frontier on both sides 
of the Lake of Garda ; up the Chiese valley to Caffaro, which is just 
on the border under the guns of the Italian fort of Rocca d'Anfo ; 
and up the Oglio valley to the Tonale Pass. Troops moved along 
the Italian ridge of Monte Baldo, east of Lake Garda, towards the 
Austrian summit of Monte Altissimo. On the east side of the salient 
in the Brenta vaUey an advance began, and on the 27th it had reached 
a point five miles from Borgo. On the same day the frontier town 
of Ala, on the Adige, was captured, and by the end of the month 
the Italians held the high ground on the south which commanded 
the forts of Rovereto. So far the successes, though small, had 
been continuous. Trent was girdled by a number of lesser fortresses 
commanding the converging routes. Such was Rovereto on the 
Adige ; such were Lardaro on an upper feeder of the Chiese, Levico 
on the Brenta, and the important fort of Riva at the head of Lake 
Garda. The closing in upon these outworks by the Italian armies 
meant that daily the offensive power of the enemy in the salient 
was declining. He no longer held the rim of the cup from which 
he could descend at will upon the plains. 

Meanwhile the Third and Second Armies were batthng in the 
difficult country which looked towards Trieste. The Isonzo cuts 
its way southwards through the butt of the Julian Alps in a deep 
gorge which ends sharply north of the town of Gorizia. Gorizia lies 
in a pocket of the hills, with the uplands protecting it in a semi- 
circle on the north. West of the Isonzo, dominating the bridge- 
head and the road and railway to Gradisca and Udine, is the spur 
of Podgora, which also commands Gorizia itself. South of the town 
stretch some four miles of level plain, till on the east bank of the 
river rises the extraordinary plateau which Italians call the Carso 
and Austrians the Karst, and which rolls east and west behind 
Trieste, and south almost to the sea. The Carso is a low, wind- 
swept tableland, strewn with limestone boulders, seamed with deep 
fissures, and covered with rough scrub and great masses of scree. 
North of Gorizia the Julian Alps rise towards the stony uplands 
of the Km or Monte Nero. A tributary, the Baca, enters the 
Isonzo on the eastern bank a little south of the town of Tolmino, 
and up its difficult valley and through the great Wochein tunnel 
runs the railway to Villach and Vienna. The difficulties of such 


a country for the offensive are too obvious to need explanation. 
The only passage through the uplands was the strip of land beside 
the sea, far too narrow for an army to travel. The flat land south 
of Gorizia was not really a gap, for the hills cloicd in a mile or two 
east of the town. The ridges of Monte Nero, the gorge of the 
upper Isonzo, and the plateau of the Carso offered secure positions 
for any defence. 

Since the main object of Cadorna was Trieste, it was desirable 
to cut, if possible, the communications of that city with its bases 
of supply. The navy of Italy could ensure that nothing entered 
it by sea. Trieste was served by two chief lines — one running by 
Gorizia and the Wochein tunnel to Villach, the other by St. Peter's 
to Laibach. The first had two branches which united at Gorizia 
— one by the coast and Monfalcone, the other running direct across 
the Carso plateau. The second received a branch from Pola, and 
at St. Peter's the main line from Fiume. To isolate Gorizia it 
was not enough to cut the Villach line north of it, or the Monfalcone 
line south of it. The Carso line in the east must also be cut, and 
that involved a considerable advance across the plateau. To 
isolate Trieste was still more difficult. The cutting of the Gorizia 
line would deprive it of its best and shortest connection with Vienna ; 
but there would still remain the Laibach line, which would only be 
effectively cut if the junction at St. Peter's were captured. What 
looked like open country to a casual student of the map was there- 
tore in its character an intricate and difficult natural fortress. The 
Carso, in particular, was a position which might be compared with 
the Labyrinth in Artois, save that it owed its chief strength 
to nature rather than to man. A swift advance was out of the 
question. So soon as the first chance of surprise had been lost, 
Cadorna's task must be to reduce the position by the capture of 
its chief details. 

Gorizia was the key of the Austrian front. So long as it was 
held it blocked any real advance across the Carso, since it threatened 
an attack on the flank, and, till the Carso railway was cut, could 
be munitioned direct from Trieste. The Austrians held not only 
the town but the bridgehead on the west bank of the Isonzo, and 
the spur of Podgora which commanded that bridgehead. The 
Italian armies advanced against this front in three sections. One, 
consisting largely of Alpine troops, moved against Tolmino and the 
heights of Monte Nero. Its immediate task was to cut the Vienna 
line north of Gorizia, and to protect the left of the main advance 
against reinforcements coming from the direction of Villach. The 

1915J MONTE NERO. 129 

centre moved directly against Gorizia itself, and especially against 
the Austrian position on the Podgora spur. The right wing ad- 
vanced on Monfalcone, to cut the coast railway and begin the assault 
on the Carso plateau. All three movements were fortunate in their 
communications. The Italian left had the railway to Cividale, 
and the roads beyond over the Starasella Pass and the other saddles 
of the Julian range. The centre had the Udine-Gorizia railway. 
The right wing had the San Giorgio-Monfalcone line. 

By 1st June the Italians had occupied the greater part of the 
west bank of the Isonzo with little opposition. The Austrians had 
chosen their line, and were not concerned to defend the indefensible. 
The weather in early June was heavy rain, and those who know the 
quick flooding of the torrents which descend from the Julian Alps 
can realize how slow must be an advance under such conditions. 
The Italian mobilization was not yet complete, and the fighting fell 
chiefly to the screen of troops on the flanks. The left wing was 
beyond the Isonzo, and fighting its way among the shale and 
boulders of Monte Nero, where the Austrian artillery had strong 
positions. The navy and the air service were active, and Mon- 
falcone was under constant bombardment. 

On the 7th an advance in force began all along the front. The 
left wing continued its struggle for the Monte Nero slopes. Bridge- 
heads were established along the middle Isonzo south of Gorizia, 
and large bodies of cavalry crossed at various points, and began 
the work of entrenching on the eastern bank. On gth June Mon- 
falcone fell without trouble. It was scarcely defended, for it lay 
outside the zone which the Austrians had marked for their defence. 
This meant that one of the loops of the Gorizia-Trieste railway 
was cut, but the Carso branch still remained. Next day the centre 
made a great effort east of Gradisca and Sagrado, but the river Hne 
proved far stronger than had been believed. So did Tolmino, 
which was now under the fire of Italian guns. The only success 
was won that night at Plava, north of Gorizia, where a surprise 
attack carried the place, and so menaced the railway from Gorizia 
to Vienna. The floods were the main obstacles on the lower course 
of the river, and the Austrians added to these by breaking the banks 
of the Monfalcone canal. Had it been possible during these days 
to push forward in full strength, Trieste would have fallen, for the 
Austrian armies were still slender. But the weather and the in- 
completeness of the Italian mobihzation made the advance partial 
and ineffective. 

Austrian troops were beginning to arrive from the GaHcian 


front. Some portion of the Tyrolese Corps was brought to the 
lines in the mountains. Regiments of Southern Slavs, who had 
no love for Italy, were sent to the Isonzo, and so spared the diffi- 
cult task of fighting against their Russian kinsmen. Lastly, there 
came at least one division of Hungarians, who, apart from the Tyro- 
lese, represented the finest fighting material in the Austrian ranks. 
The chance of an easy victory was slipping from Italy's hands. 
Cadorna was discovering the strength of the Austrian artillery, 
which seems to have been admirably placed. All along the western 
fringe of the Carso, and especially on the Podgora spur which com- 
manded Gorizia, were ramifications of trench lines, protected by 
elaborate entanglements and fortins, and with the glacis heavily 
wired. The Austrian Staff had not forgotten the lesson of Galicia. 

On 15th June the first Italian attack was made on the Podgora 
position. Next day the Alpini on the left wing carried the im- 
portant position of Monte Nero, climbing the rocks by night, 
attacking at dawn, and taking many prisoners. But the conquest 
of these spurs of the mountains did not greatly advance the 
purpose of the campaign. No guns of great calibre could follow 
them, and Tolmino, where Dante is rumoured to have written part 
of his great poem, could, with its fortress artillery, defy the posts 
on the heights. On the 17th the Villach-Gorizia line near Plava 
was definitely cut. That fight for Plava was a spirited performance. 
The village lay in the bottom of the ravine beside the swift river, 
with precipitous wooded hills on either side. The bridge had been 
destroyed ; but the Italians with a great effort constructed pontoons 
during the night, and at dawn on the 17th began their attack. The 
defence had 12-inch guns, and entrenchments surrounded by deep 
networks of wire. By the evening the Italians had carried the 
first line with the bayonet, and stood firm all night against counter- 
attacks. Next day they routed the enemy, taking many prisoners, 
and occupied the heights on the eastern bank of the stream. 

In the following week there were repeated counter-attacks at 
Plava and on Monte Nero, where the Italian Alpini were engaged 
with their fellow-mountaineers of Tyrol. By the 25th some ground 
north of Plava was won, and, what was more important, a be- 
ginning was made with the advance on the Carso, the edge of the 
plateau being gained between Sagrado and Monfalcone ; while from 
Cormons the Podgora position and the Gorizia bridgehead were 
bombarded. The month of June closed in storms, with thick 
fog in the mountains, which interfered with artillery work, and 
deluges of rain in the flats. By this time the inundations of the 


lower Isonzo were being mastered, for the Italian engineers, 
working under the enemy's fire, succeeded in damming the opening 
of the Monfalcone canal. On the 2Sth the bridgehead of Castel- 
nuovo, on the east bank of the river, was carried by a bayonet 
attack. This gave Cadoma two important bridgeheads — Plava 
was the other — inside the Austrian zone of defence. Monfalcone, 
though on the east bank, was outside the zone, and Caporetto and 
Gradisca were on the wrong side. On the last day of June there 
was a great artillery bombardment, but a general infantry attack 
on the centre failed to achieve any results. The position was now 
that Cadoma's left wing was strongly posted, but in the nature 
of things could not do much against Tolmino ; his centre was 
facing the great entrenched camp of Gorizia ; while his right was 
on the edge of the Carso, and had advanced its flank as far as Duino, 
on the Monfalcone-Trieste railway. The Gorizia line had been cut 
north and south of the town, and only the Carso line remained to 
link the fortress with Trieste. The first rush had failed, but pre- 
liminary positions had been won from which to initiate a new struggle 
for the plateau and the Gorizia defences. 

That struggle began on 2nd July. It was an attack on a broad 
front, not less than twenty-five miles, and it was aimed directly 
at Gorizia. The left was to occupy the heights east of Plava and 
then swing round through the Temovanerwald against the defences 
of Gorizia in the north, and east round the village of San Gabriele 
and San Daniele. The centre was directed against the Podgora 
spur and the Gorizia bridgehead, while the right, which had already 
won the western and south-western edges of the Carso, was to 
move against the northern part of that plateau which takes its 
name from the village of Doberdo. The chief operative movement 
was that of the right wing, for, if the Doberdo upland were carried, 
the Trieste railway would be cut and Gorizia must fall. The forces 
on Monte Nero might be regarded as an outlying defence of the left 
flank of the advance. 

The long and confused fighting which began on 2nd July, and 
which ebbed away into an artillery duel about the middle of August, 
is properly to be considered as one action, which may be called the 
First Battle of the Isonzo. The details may be briefly summarized. 
On 3rd July the centre attacked fiercely the Podgora position, 
and next day, after a lengthy bombardment, the right pushed some 
way into the Carso. On the 5th the centre and right — four corps 
strong — were again in action, and slowly advanced their Unes. 
The Itahans — now less than twenty miles from Trieste — had brought 


some of th ^ir heavy guns up to the edge of the plateau, and for a 
few days there was a continuous bombardment and counter- 
bombardment. On Monday, the 19th, the right made a successful 
attack, carrying several lines of trenches. Next day the centre, 
after a desperate fight, carried a considerable section of the Podgora 
spur, though the Austrians still held the eastern end overlooking 
Gorizia. Meanwhile the left had been heavily engaged in the Plava 
neighbourhood. Four brigades were hurled against the wooded 
heights east of the river, and for two days fought their way from 
ledge to ledge. The Hungarians who opposed them, being plains- 
men unaccustomed to mountain warfare, yielded at first before 
the attack of the Alpini, but fought resolutely on the upper heights. 
The Italian batteries from the other side of the river plastered the 
hillside with shell, till the mountain flared to heaven like a volcano. 
A Dalmatian regiment was brought up from the Austrian reserves, 
and, concealed in rifts and gullies, their fire flung back three times 
the charge of the Piedmontese. Then came a period of utter 
weariness, and for twenty-four hours both sides rested. Next day 
three new Italian brigades were brought up, and King Victor 
Emmanuel himself was present to encourage his troops. The 
final assault carried the heights, the last ground being won by 
a close-quarters struggle with the bayonet. This Plava battle 
was terribly costly to both sides, and the Italian commander was 
seriously wounded in the closing stage. 

The action was renewed along the whole front on 22nd July. 
That day the Italian right captured the crest of San Michele, 
which dominated most of the Doberdo plateau. Before evening a 
violent cross fire drove them off the actual ridge, but they main- 
tained their position just below it. Cadorna was now engaged 
with the enemy's second line of defence, and he found it stronger 
than the first fine. To add to his difficulties, further reinforce- 
ments arrived in the early days of August, for the fall of Warsaw 
had enabled the enemy to dispense with some of his troops. By 
the middle of August the First Battle of the Isonzo had virtually 

The result was less than the valour of Italy deserved. Much 
ground had been won, but no vital position had been carried. 
Gorizia was intact, and Trieste was no nearer its fall than in the 
first weeks of the campaign. The line of the Isonzo had been carried, 
except the loop west of Gorizia. The western and southern portions 
of the Carso were in Italian hands, including the important vantage 
points of Sei Busi, San Martino, and San Michele. The Plava 


heights had been won, but it was difficult to advance from them ; 
the western part of the Podgora spur was in ItaUan hands, but not 
the critical eastern section. Gorizia was invested on three sides, but 
no one of its vital outworks had been taken. Cadorna was discover- 
ing a truth which had been burned in upon the minds of the armies 
in Western Europe — that a first line may be carried, but that the 
real difficulties only begin with the second hne. Provided the 
enemy has his communications intact, and has a country behind 
him well adapted by nature to defence, a withdrawal may only 
mean the accession of fresh strength. The Austrian Staff deserved 
credit for the handling of this section of the campaign. They 
chose their ground with skill, defending only what was defensible, 
and allowed the enemy to break his teeth against positions which 
were short of their vital lines. The Italian plan was sound, the 
Italian fighting was beyond praise for its courage and resolution ; 
but once again was proved the enormous strength of the defence 
in modem war, provided that its artillery equipment be adequate. 
The result of the three months' campaign was a check, and since 
the offensive was with Italy the Austrian command was justified 
in claiming the honours. 

The campaign in the high mountains was primarily a war of 
defence. Italy must safeguard her flanks and rear before she 
could push on with confidence beyond the Isonzo, and such offen- 
sive purpose as she had was subsidiary to the main effort against 
Trieste. We have seen that the mountain battle-ground fell into 
three clearly marked areas — the salient of the Trentino, the passes 
of the Dolomites, and the passes of the Carnic Alps. Very early 
in June she had won the crest of the ridge in the two latter theatres, 
and developed a slow offensive against the Pusterthal railway. 
In the Trentino the problem of defence was more intricate. It was 
not enough to win the rim of the salient. She must push her front 
well inland towards the nodal points of the converging valleys. 
By August this task had been largely accomplished, and she could 
look forward with composure to the winter, since she held the keys 
of the mountain gates. 

The details of the Carnic fighting convey little save to experts 
in its confused topography. Early in June the Itahans had crossed 
the frontier at the railway pass of the Fella, and the Austrian fort 
of Malborghetto was under their guns. At the same time an attack 
was made on the right by way of the Predil Pass against Plezzo, 
and the mule paths over the range on the left were occupied by 
parties of Alpini. No effective crossing of the range was, however. 


achieved, and the important railway junction of Tarvis was not in 
danger. In the western Carnic Alps the main struggle centred 
round the pass of Monte Croce Camico. A fortnight after the out- 
break of war the Alpini had driven the Austrians from the domi- 
nating position to the east of the pass. They then took the Zellen- 
koffel to the west, and in successive weeks captured the summits 
of Pal Grande, Freikoffel, and Pal Piccolo. This gave the pass to 
Italian hands ; but the Austrians, supported by their artillery on 
the northern hills, clung to the farther slopes. The ItaHans blasted 
paths and gun positions out of the solid rock, and secured their posi- 
tion ; but, beyond repulsing Austrian counter-attacks, they found 
themselves unable to do much during the summer. As an example of 
the dash of the Alpini, the capture of the Freikoffel may be cited. 
The summit was taken by ten volunteers, who climbed the sheer 
southern wall of the peak in the darkness before the summer dawn. 
Farther west, in the Dolomite region, the attack was pressed 
hard, for the objective was very near. Cortina having been cap- 
tured on 30th May, the Italians moved westwards towards the 
Falzarego Pass, which leads to Bozen, and north towards the 
Pusterthal railway. The former advance may be regarded merely 
as a flank guard, but the latter was a serious effort conducted with 
great skill and audacity. From the Ampezzo valley there are two 
main routes to the railway. One is the Strada d'Allemagna from 
Cortina under the precipices of Tofana to Schluderbach and Tob- 
lach, and another goes by the Sexten valley to Innichen. Between 
the two lies a third from Misurina by the Val Popena, which joins 
the first route at Schluderbach. There are other paths for crags- 
men, but these are the only roads for guns and transport. By the 
middle of August the Italians had crossed the watershed, and were 
only a few miles from the Pusterthal railway. Casual students 
of the map daily anticipated that that line must be cut. But the 
difficulties of the Dolomite advance were not to be measured in 
yards and miles. The debouchment at Toblach was a narrow 
opening among precipitous crags. All the routes led through 
defiles, where an advance could only be secured by the capture of 
the neighbouring heights. This the Alpini brilliantly performed. 
They scaled the shining white cliffs of Tofana and Cristallo, and 
brought their mountain guns to vantage points which cleared the 
passes for some distance before them. The Austrians, with the 
assistance of their forts, fought delaying actions in the narrows, 
and their detachments skirmished on the heights. In this stage 
of the business the Italians had a clear advantage, but the real 

1915] THE TRENTINO. 135 

defence of the Pusterthal had not begun. It is the first rule in 
mountain warfare that to control a pass you must control its 
debouchments. In the Pusterthal, with its excellent railway, re- 
serves were waiting to greet the heads of any columns that passed 
the defiles. With a broad valley and a railway behind it the 
defence could concentrate where it pleased. The Italians, on the 
other hand, could not support each other, for each column moved 
in its own groove, and their only lateral communications were far 
behind in the easier country of the foothills. The Alpini, who 
could see from above Schluderbach the rock gate which led to 
Toblach almost within range of their field guns, were in reality 
as far from their objective as if a province had intervened. Italy 
had made good her defence on the northern heights, but the con- 
ditions were still ominously against a true offensive. 

The Trentino campaign aimed only at the security of the Lombard 
plains. By the end of May the Italians had the passes, and were 
moving by three main routes — by the Adige valley against Rove- 
reto, and by the Val Sugana and the Val Giudicaria against Trent. 
Farther north, on the western side of the salient, they were holding 
the watershed in the vicinity of the Tonale and Stelvio passes. The 
movement on Trent and Rovereto was slow and difficult, owing 
to the necessity of mastering in detail the surrounding heights 
and to the immense strength of the Austrian fortifications, hewn, 
as they often were, out of the Uving rock. The main interest of 
the summer months was the curious campaign on the western 
ridges, where fighting became a business of small detachments 
widely separated by precipitous ravines and snow-clad peaks. 
Those who have mountaineered in the Adamello and Ortler groups 
know the strait, steep valleys, with meadows in the bottoms and 
woods of fir and pine on the lower slopes, and above them the 
stony heights studded with green alps, and over all the snows and 
glaciers of the summits. In such country there was room for only 
small bodies of troops, and the raising of guns to the lofty ridges 
was a toil which only the hardiest mountain-bred soldiers could 
accomplish. The Austrians, mountain-bred also, were not an 
enemy to be despised, and many desperate encounters took place 
among screes and rock terraces — campaigning only to be paral- 
leled by the exploits of the Gurkhas in the Lhasa expedition. It 
was a type of mountain warfare far more arduous than the cam- 
paign among the low saddles of the Carpathians. 

By the middle of August the eagle's feathers of the Alpini were 
seen on all the vantage grounds from the Stelvio to Lake Garda, 


A chain of posts lined the heights, passing through the snows of 
the Ortler summit and the high mountain huts of the Adamello. 
In these eyries, often at a height of more than 10,000 feet, entrench- 
ments and entanglements were created, guns were put in position, 
and the strange spectacle was seen of barbed wire among the 
crevasses of the glaciers. Mountaineers know the peculiar gifts 
of the best Italian guides — their inexhaustible resource, their 
inspired audacity, and their unwearying zest for difficulties. The 
same qualities were present in the work of Italy's mountain soldiers. 
Feats of physical endurance, which involved long days of unbe- 
lievable toil, were varied by expeditions whose keynote was boyish 
adventure. One party of Alpini blew up a power-station in a 
gorge which supplied the forts of Rovereto. Others made night 
attacks which involved wonderful feats of cragsmanship, dropping 
from the skies at midnight upon an unsuspecting enemy. This 
clean warfare on the old simple lines suited the genius of Northern 
Italy, and it abundantly achieved its purpose. If the Adige 
valleys were still in Austrian hands, the plains of Lombardy were 
none the less safe from the invader. 

The naval war during those months showed no action of im- 
portance. The Austrian battle fleet lay snug in Pola, and only 
its submarines and smaller craft ventured into the northern Adriatic. 
The Italian fleet in June cruised along the Dalmatian coast, and 
destroyed the wireless stations on the islands of Lissa and Cuzzola. 
On 7th July Italy proclaimed a blockade of the Austrian and 
Albanian coasts, warning off vessels of all flags from the Adriatic. 
Early on the morning of the iSth a substantial loss was sustained, 
the old Italian cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi being sunk off Cattaro 
by an Austrian submarine, with the loss of one hundred lives. On 
the 23rd some Austrian destroyers bombarded Ortona and the 
coast railway. Two days later the Italians occupied the Dalmatian 
island of Pelagosa, and a French destroyer blew up the submarine 
and airplane supply station on the island of Laogosta. These 
incidents had little importance, belonging only to the outer fringe 
of naval activity. The Italian losses to the end of July were two 
cruisers, a submarine, and a destroyer. The situation in the Aari- 
atic was in miniature the same as that in the North Sea — the Allied 
Fleet had the mastery, and moved at its pleasure, subject to the 
menace of submarines and occasional abortive raids of the enemy's 
lighter vessels from Cattaro. The much-indented lUyrian coast 
had, since the days of Virgil, been a hostile sheltering ground too 
good for the ease of the Adriatic. 

igrs] ITALY AND TURKEY. 137 

The relations between Italy and the Teutonic League were 
still at this stage curiously vague. She was definitely at war with 
Austria only — a war supported by the full weight of racial aversion 
and traditional grievances. But she had not declared war against 
Germany, though diplomatic relations between the two Powers 
were suspended. Germany had for forty years been engaged in 
building up great commercial interests in Italy, and she had no 
desire to lose her financial control of some of the chief Italian 
industries. It may be added that the fire of resentment against 
German ideals did not bum so fiercely in Italian hearts as among 
the other Allies. The popular repugnance to Deutschtum went 
rather to increase the hatred felt for the traditional enemy of Vienna 
than to pillory the dimly realized plotters of Berlin. But with 
the third member of the Teutonic League Italy had a long-standing 
quarrel. The war with Turkey, which broke out in October 1911, 
ended a year later with the Treaty of Lausanne. But under that 
treaty Turkey did not recognize formally the Italian occupation 
of Tripoli and Cyrenaica ; she ignored it, and set herself to put 
every possible difficulty in Italy's way. Italian prisoners of war 
were not released ; the Ottoman troops in Libya remained under 
their old officers and flag. Enver continued sporadic hostilities 
during the closing months of 1912, and Aziz Bey did not leave the 
country till June 1913. After that, Turkish officers, specially 
trained by Enver, continued to drift back to Tripoli and Cyrenaica, 
and encourage the recalcitrant Arab bands. When the great war 
broke out, the jehad was preached as much against the Italians 
in Libya as against the French in Morocco and the British in Egypt. 
By the summer of 1915 Italy's North African possessions were in 
a state of profound confusion and unrest, and not unnaturally she 
blamed Turkey for the situation. Her diplomatic protests had been 
treated with the more than Oriental apathy of Constantinople. 

There was another and a very real grievance. The liberty of 
Italian subjects within the Ottoman Empire itself had recently 
been grossly interfered with. Italian citizens had not been allowed 
to depart from various ports in Asia Minor. Turkey anticipated 
a declaration of war, and behaved as if it had already come. On 
3rd August the Italian Ambassador in Constantinople addressed 
a Note to the Porte demanding among other things that Italians 
should be allowed to depart freely from Beirut, Smyrna, Mersina, 
Alexandretta, Haifa, and Jaffa, and that local authorities in the 
interior should give up their opposition to the movement of Italian 
subjects to the coast and provide facilities for their voyage. This 


Note was in form an ultimatum, and forty-eight hours were granted 
for its consideration. The Grand Vizier accepted all the demands 
within the time specified, but he did nothing more. On the 9th 
news arrived that the Turkish authorities had revoked their 
consent to the departure of Italians at Beirut and Mersina. On 
Saturday, 21st August, Italy's patience was exhausted, and she 
iormaUy declared war. 


June 28, igi4-June 28, 1915. 

The Military Result — Germany's Calculations — Her Strength and Weakness — The 
Position of the Allies — The British Problem of Men and Munitions — British 
Finance — The Allies' Lack of Central Direction — The Neutral States — The 
Naval Position — The Leaders, 

It is desirable in the chronicle of a campaign to halt now and then 
and look backwards over the path we have travelled. It may be 
a help to a true perspective if we attempt a summary and an esti- 
mate of the doings of the year of war, which we may reasonably 
date from that Sunday, the 28th of June, when the heir to the 
Austrian throne was murdered at Serajevo. 

The military results of the year must have seemed to any man, 
casting up the account on paper at some distance from the atmos- 
phere of strife, an indisputable German triumph. Belgium, all 
but a small western fraction, lay captive, and was in process of 
Germanization. The rich industrial district of Lille, and all north- 
eastern France between the Oise and the Meuse, were occupied by 
her troops. She had battered down with ease the northern for- 
tresses. She had driven a wedge across the upper Meuse. The 
Woevre was in her hands. Her battle front was oniy thirty miles 
from the gates of Paris. To set against this, the Allies had 
penetrated German territory for a small distance in Alsace, but 
Alsace was not Germany in the sense that Picardy was France. 
Again, she held her conquests with a line of trenches which for 
eight months the Allies had endeavoured in vain to break. She 
had the high ground from Ypres to La Bassee ; she had the crest 
of the Falaises de Champagne ; and even positions which seemed 
precarious, like the St. Mihiel salient, had proved so far impregnable. 
In August 1914 she had defeated the Allies in a series of great 
battles ; and though thereafter her progress had been less notable, 



it was difficult to point to any counterbalancing Allied gain. It 
was true that her first plan had shipwrecked at the Mame, and her 
second on the bastion of Ypres ; but she had made a third, and 
the third had prospered. She was holding the Western front with 
fewer men than her opponents, and she was holding it securely. 
The much-vaunted efforts of Champagne, Les Eparges, Artois, 
Neuve Chapelle, and Festubert had made only inconsiderable dints 
in her battle line. She had reaped the full benefit from the territory 
she had occupied. Belgium and north-eastern France had been 
bled white in her interests, and she was using their wealth and 
industrial organization to forge new weapons against her foes. The 
situation in the West, an impartial observer might have decided, 
was wholly advantageous to Germany. There she could keep off 
the enemy with her left hand while she struck with her right 

But if German eyes could turn westward with a modest com- 
fort on that 28th day of June, they looked eastward with something 
like exultation. There, surely, the age of miracles had dawned. 
The early disasters in East Prussia had been gloriously atoned 
for at Tannenberg. Hindenburg, after one failure, had secured 
western Poland. Austria had blundered at the start and lost 
the better part of Galicia, and for some months there had been 
anxious hearts in the Oder valley. But since the opening of the 
New Year all failures had been redeemed. East Prussia was in- 
violate, and German armies were hammering at the gates of Riga. 
Galicia had been won back, its great oil-fields had been regained^ 
and the menace to the cornlands of Hungary had gone. Further, 
with immense slaughter, the armies of Russia had been driven 
inside their own frontiers ; the Warsaw triangle was being assailed, 
Warsaw seemed doomed, and it looked as if all Poland would soon 
be in German hands. Even if Germany was granted no Sedan in 
the East, she had broken the Russian offensive for a year, and 
would presently be free to use half her Eastern armies to compel 
a decision in the West. Her colleagues had not distinguished them- 
selves ; but in the grip of the German machine even Austrian and 
Turk could march to victory. The threat from Italy did not 
disturb her ; she knew the strength of the Austro-Italian frontier. 
The Allies were committed to an impossible enterprise at Gallipoli, 
where even success, in her eyes, would not atone for their desperate 
losses. She noted with approval that the Balkan States still 
maintained their uneasy neutrality. After her victories of the 
summer there would be small inducement for Rumania, Bulgaria, 


and Greece to pledge their fortunes to a drooping cause. Even 
if they lost their heads, it would matter Httle. Germany had a 
supreme contempt for subsidiary operations. When she had 
crippled Russia, and broken France and Britain, she could deal 
at her leisure with any foolish Balkan princeling. 

The naval position was less satisfactory. It was true that 
Germany's fleet was still intact in the sanctuary of the Heligoland 
Bight, but it was a weapon that might rust for want of use. The 
Allied navies had swept her mercantile shipping from the seas of 
the world. Her coasts were blockaded, and her breaches of inter- 
national law had compelled Britain to rewrite the maritime code 
and to bear hard upon those neutrals in whom she had trusted. 
She had no ships of war anywhere except in her home waters, and 
the occasions on which she had tried conclusions with Britain had 
not ended prosperously. Her submarines had, indeed, done 
marvels, but they were fruitless marvels. They had sent to the 
bottom a large number of Allied and neutral merchantmen, and 
had exasperated her enemies ; but they had not seriously inter- 
fered with the sea-borne Allied commerce, and they had done 
nothing to relieve the blockade of Germany. No doubt they had 
destroyed several Allied ships of war, and they had driven the big 
battleships from the Dardanelles ; but thoughtful people in Ger- 
many were beginning to look with some disfavour on the sub- 
marine worship of which Tirpitz was the hierophant. It was 
daring and brilliant ; but it had not weakened the Allied navies 
or interfered with their operations, and it was raising ugly diffi- 
culties with America. On the general question of the rival Grand 
Fleets there was httle difference of opinion. The war must be 
decided on land, and the victor there would impose his own terms 
as to the future of the seas. The British fleet had destroyed Ger- 
many's overseas trade, and there its activit}^ ceased. If, in spite 
of it, Germany could obtain the requisite supplies, then the boasted 
naval predominance of Britain came to nothing. She would give 
Britain no occasion for a Trafalgar, and all the battleships on 
earth could not interfere with the decision on the Vistula or 
the Oise. 

Her economic position, which some months earlier had occa- 
sioned much searching of heart, had now been more clearly deter- 
mined. Germany could still, through the complaisance of her 
enemies, receive certain foreign supplies, such as cotton, and for 
the rest she could make shift with her own productions. The 
Teutonic League was virtually self-supporting. All the mechan- 


ical skill of her engineers, all the learning and ingenuity of her 
chemists, were utilized. Her industrial Hfe down to the smallest 
fraction was mobilized for war. Substitutes were invented for 
former imports, food supplies were organized and doled out 
under Government supervision, and the machinery of her recent 
commercial expansion was switched on to the making of munitions. 
She was confident that she could maintain a far greater output 
than the Allies for a long enough period to ensure victory. As 
for her finances, she was living upon the certainty of that victory. 
Her internal credit, which was all that was needed, would last out 
the war. If she were beaten, then, indeed, she would be bankrupt 
on a colossal scale ; but defeat did not enter into her calculations. 

The position of the Teutonic League and Turkey, its ally, was 
gloomy enough outside Europe. The Turks, though they were 
doing well under German supervision in the Dardanelles, had been 
beaten in the Caucasus and in Mesopotamia, and their invasion of 
Egypt had ended in a fiasco. In the Far East the great German 
fortress of Tsing-tau, on which millions had been spent — her one 
foothold on the continent of Asia — had fallen to Japan. Her 
Pacific possessions had melted away like a mirage. In Africa the 
dreams of Wissmann and Nachtigal were vanishing. Togoland 
was a British colony. The vital parts of the Cameroons were in 
British and French hands, and its German garrison had been 
forced far up into the inhospitable hinterland. In East Africa 
she was holding her own ; but she could get no reinforcements 
there, and it could be only a question of time till her enemies 
pressed in the sides of the quadrilateral. In South Africa, on which 
she had counted, the situation was sheer farce. The rebellion 
had been a flash in the pan ; Botha had overrun and conquered 
German South-West territory ; and the land which she had looked 
upon as a likely ally was preparing to send an expeditionary force 
to France. But she might well comfort herself with the reflec- 
tion that the ultimate fate of those outland possessions would 
follow the decision of the European conflict, and she did not doubt 
what that decision would be. 

Such a summary would have represented the view of an im- 
partial outsider on June 28, 1915, and, a Httle more highly col- 
oured, that of the average thinking German. On the whole — the 
conclusion would have been — the honours of the first year of war 
lay with Germany. But those who sought to judge the situation 
nghtly were compelled to look beyond the bare facts to the policies 
of which they were the consequence. An outlook may seem roseate 


enough to everybody except the man who bears the responsibility. 
Mere successes do not signify much unless they represent stages in 
the reahzation of the central purpose. How far had Germany 
achieved her desires ? Were the victories she had won bringing 
her nearer to that kind of result which alone would serve her need ? 

Her first plan of campaign had presumed a speedy decision. 
The Allies in the West were to be crushed by the Day of Sedan ; 
and then, with France prostrate under her heel, she could turn 
eastwards and compel Russia to sue for peace. That dream of a 
battle without a morrow had died on the day in September when 
her great armies recoiled to the Aisne plateau. Then had come 
a new plan. The second offensive was to seize the Channel ports, 
move on Paris from its northern side, terrorize Britain, and compel 
a settlement before winter had fully come. That scheme, too, had 
to be relinquished when, in the first week of November, the most 
crushing odds had failed to force the West Flanders gate. There- 
upon, with admirable courage and amazing vitality, Germany 
adopted a third course. She consented in the West, and presently 
in the East also, to a war of attrition which went directly against 
her interests, for it wore down the one thing she could not replace 
— her numbers of men. But meanwhile she was busy piling up 
a weight of munitions which far exceeded the total complement of 
the Allies. The exact point of this pohcy should be noted. It 
would enable her to hold her front, and even to take the offensive, 
with far fewer men than her enemies. With its aid she could, 
though outnumbered, hold the front in the West, while she could 
destroy the Russian lines. It nullified not only the superior num- 
bers of the Allies, but their peculiar fighting qualities. She could 
destroy them from a distance, as an undersized mechanic in an 
airplane might with bombs annihilate a regiment of heroes. She 
had grasped with extraordinary precision the exact bearing of 
modern science upon modern warfare. If we are to do justice to 
Germany's achievement, we must realize that this policy was the 
reverse of that with which she started. She began with an attempt 
to break her foes in manoeuvre battles. When that failed, she 
calmly and methodically revised her calculations, and adopted a 
new, difficult, and laborious scheme, which required immense 
efforts to set it in working order. That is the essence of a per- 
formance whose magnitude it is folly to decry. 

This new plan of war involved a revision of her national pur- 
pose. The dream of sweeping like a new Timour over East and 
West, and dictating terms in a halo of glory, was promptly relin- 


quished. She saw herself condemned to a slow war which would 
give her enemies the chance of increasing their strength, of making 
that effort which she had made years before the first shots were 
fired. She resolved to turn the odds against her to her advan- 
tage. Russia and Britain might add millions to their first levies, 
and multiply their war supplies by twenty ; but the business 
would be slow, for the Allies had not patiently organized them- 
selves for war. If she could hold her own for two years, rifts 
would appear in the AUied lute. Their populations, faced with 
unfamiliar problems involving novel sacrifices, would grow restive. 
Criticism would flourish, ministries and governments would fall 
into discredit, and half their efforts would be dissipated in idle 
quarrels. There was a chance, too, of serious differences arising 
between the Alhed governments. One Power would carp at the 
supineness of another ; recriminations would follow, and then a 
diversion of energy. Germany hoped for nmch from the old diffi- 
culties that confront an alliance of equals. Her own allies would 
give her little trouble, for they were not equals, and she was carry- 
ing their burden as well as her own. Britain was the most danger- 
ous enemy, because of her wealth and her man-power. But the 
longest purse will some day empty itself, and Germany noted with 
pleasure that Britain, who had to finance much of the Alhed prepara- 
tions, was conducting her expenditure with a wastefulness which 
must soon impoverish even her deep coffers. As for the British 
levies, however numerous and sturdy they might be, she comforted 
herself with the reflection that the British Staff had in the past 
been trained to handle only small forces, and would in all likeli- 
hood find the ordering of millions beyond its power. Her aim was 
no longer a sweeping conquest, but a draw which would leave her 
in possession of certain vantage points. This " white peace " 
would find her much depleted in men and money, but with a re- 
sounding fame as by far the greatest mihtary power in history. 
Then would follow some years of recuperation, and in due time 
a second and successful stroke for the dominion of the world. 

These calculations were not ill founded, and on the 2Sth day 
of June 1915 might well have seemed to impartial observers a 
just forecast. It is always hard to estimate fairly the achievement 
of an enemy. Our judgment is apt to follow our inclination till 
the moment of panic comes, when it follows our fears. In Ger- 
many was seen for the first time in history a great nation organ- 
ized for war down to the humblest detail. No atom of national 
energy was dissipated in irrelevancies ; every channel was tribu- 


tary to one main purpose. The very faults of Prussianism in 
peace — its narrowness, its officialdom, its contempt for individual 
freedom — became assets in strife. If Germany fell it would be no 
fault of hers, for she had done all that mortal could do to deserve 
success. But while it was right to estimate her achievement high, 
it was easy to put it too high. The machine had taken long years 
to create. If you have a docile people and a centralized and 
autocratic Government, and bend all your energies to the prepara- 
tion for conquest, then you will create a far more efficient machine 
than your enemy, who has no thought of conquest and only a 
hazy notion of defence. In a struggle such as this the only side 
which could be fully prepared was the side which had always con- 
templated war. The perfection of German methods stood out in 
relief as contrasted with the unprofessional ways of the Allies 
rather than because of its intrinsic virtues, though these were great. 
In an earlier chapter we have discussed some of Germany's 
preparations. A few had grossly failed, and had defeated their 
own end. For nearly half a century her teachers had been en- 
deavouring to get Europe to accept an idea of the Teutonic race as 
God's chosen people. Racial generahties are not an exact science, 
and this crusade led to some sad nonsense. But it made many 
converts. Historians in Britain and America fell victims to it, 
and decried for its sake the Slav and the Latin, and even in Italian 
schools under German influence there was an attempt to inculcate 
the worship of Deutschtum* The first whiff of grapeshot scat- 
tered these whimsies, and the laborious efforts of the pedants — 
outside Germany — went for nothing. So, too, with the attempt 
on the part of the German governing class to infect the world with 
a new morality. The Nietzschean doctrine of force, which in 
peace time was poisoning the springs of the world's thought, sud- 
denly lost its appeal when war began. It lost its appeal even in 

* One factor in this odd propaganda was The Foundations of the Nineteenth 
Century, by Mr. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, an Englishman who had become a 
German citizen and had married a daughter of Wagner. This work, written with 
ability and occasionally with real historical insight, was an attempt to prove that 
all that is valuable in our modern civilization is the work of the Teutonic genius. 
For this purpose the author boldly annexed Leonardo and Dante as Teutons. A 
spurious originality can always be got by writing history up to a fanciful thesis, and 
one effort of this kind is usually followed by an equally successful effort from the 
opposite standpoint. If you write a history of the world to prove that progress 
is the work of red-haired men, somebody else will show as convincingly that it is 
the work of the black-haired. The pendant to Mr. Chamberlain's book appeared 
in 1912, Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben, the work of the Berlin professor, Werner 
Sombart. It showed that modern civiUzation was mainly the creation of the Jew, 
and claimed as Jews — among others — Columbus, and the Scotsman, John Law of 


Germany. The prophets of the new moraUty tumbled over each 
other to prove that they were still devotees of the old. Britain 
was blamed for actions which, if true, would have been precisely 
those which Treitschke and Bemhardi had recommended to their 
countrymen ; and the latter teacher was compelled to explain 
that he had been misunderstood, and had always been on the side 
of the old-fashioned angels. The German people were made to 
believe that they had Right on their side — copy-book, Scriptural 
Right — and they died confident in the same cause for which the 
Allies fought, and which to the fashionable German moraUsts had 
been as foolishness. 

The weakness of Germany, it was already obvious, lay in her 
profound political ineptitude. Her preparation for war, except 
that part of it which was the military machine, was not only 
ineffective, it was directly subversive of her interests. Her one 
political success was that she convinced her own people that she 
was the aggrieved, not the aggressor ; but it was not clear that 
this persuasion would last. At midsummer 1915 the Burgfriede was 
not what it had been in the preceding September. In December 
Liebknecht had been alone among the Social Democrats in oppos- 
ing the war credits ; by June the " minority " group included men 
like Ledebour and Haase, and the official organ, the Vorwdrts, 
had gone into opposition.* As for foreign peoples, whether neutral 
or AlUed, she had utterly failed to understand their temper or 
appreciate its practical significance. She had created and was 
blunderingly increasing an antagonism which could not be measured 
merely by the Allied fleets and armies. Her leaders might persuade 
their obedient people that they stood for truth and righteousness, 
but to the eyes of the world their writings, their speeches, and 
above all their deeds, remained damning evidence to the contrary. 
There lay the chink in the shining German armour. No conquest 
in history has ever endured unless the conquerors brought to 
the conquered substantial benefits. The Romans gave law and 
security, Charlemagne gave peace, even the Turkish dominion in 
the late Middle Ages brought some order and comfort for the plain 
man. Still more true was it of the modem world, where education 
had disposed the majority of men to a critical habit. For Ger- 
many to win, she had to persuade not only neutrals but bel- 
ligerents that an endless and terrible war was more dreadful than 
her victory. She had persuaded the world of the opposite. To 

* The growth of the opposition may be followed ia E. Bevan's German Social 
Democracy during the War (1918). 


three-fourths of mankind no price seemed too great to pay for her 
failure. Even those who retained some kindUness for the rank 
and file of the German nation were being driven to the conviction 
that its only hope of ultimate salvation was to endure a cnish- 
ing defeat. Germany was playing now for a one-sided peace, 
but to win any kind of peace you must convince your opponents 
that the prospect is at least tolerable. She had by her conduct 
of the war and by her avowed purpose convinced the Allies that 
it was of all prospects the most intolerable. This indisputable 
truth, of which she seemed to have no inkling, vitiated all 
her plans. She had nothing to offer to the world as the price of 
acquiescence. She stood glaringly bankrupt in all that the better 
instinct of our mortal nature desires. The tragedy of Germany 
was far deeper than the tragedies of Poland and Belgium. 

The position of the Allies on 28th June has already been sketched 
by implication in the preceding pages. There was no slackening 
of resolution, but to the ordinary man there was a very real dash- 
ing of hope. In Britain especially, where the contest had been 
entered upon in a spirit of exuberant optimism, the truth about 
the German machine had been slow to dawn upon the popular 
mind. We had sacrificed so much, we had raised and lost so many 
men, and now it seemed as if the effort had been fruitless. The 
talk about " organization," which political mentors used, perplexed 
and frightened the nation. To some timid souls it seemed Prus- 
sianism under another name. Could we beat our enemy only by 
adopting what we had been led to regard as that enemy's vices ? 
And even those who desired to make the ultimate sacrifice did 
not know how to set about it. We clung to old constitutional 
watchwords about the " freedom of the individual," and attempted 
the ancient impossibility of crossing an unbridged river dryshod. 
The lack of any conspicuous national leadership intensified the 
confusion. The British people are not slow to recognize facts 
when they are once pointed out, but the recognition of facts is 
the rarest of virtues among politicians, who are accustomed to a 
particular game, and object to any tampering with the rules and 
counters. In a democracy such as ours the mass of the people 
are quicker to learn and wiser in the result than their professional 
leaders, who, accustomed to wait for a popular " cry " and " nian- 
date," are rarely capable of that thinking and doing in advance 
which is the true function of leadership. But for opinion to per- 
colate up from below takes time, and in the urgency of a crisis 


there is sore need of statesmen to initiate and lead. A democracy 
is rarely fortunate in its normal governors. That is why in the 
hour of need it is apt to seek a dictator. 

The British people during a season of military set-backs had 
two difficulties to face which their Allies did not share. Both 
sprang from their previous lack of interest in military questions. 
A prosperous business man will rarely take his adversary to the law 
courts. He will prefer to compromise even at some loss to his 
own pocket, for litigation is a waste of time and may give an un- 
desirable publicity. It is the same with commercial nations like 
Britain and, in a far greater degree, the United States. They will 
always prefer, except in the very last extremity, to pay Danegeld 
rather than fight the Danes, and if they have to fight they regard 
their wealth as their principal asset. But conceive the case of 
a business man who has unwillingly gone to law, announcing that 
if money can do it he will crush his opponent. Conceive the posi- 
tion of such a man when he suddenly finds that the Htigation will 
deplete his balance, and that he may have great difficulty in pay- 
ing the fees of the eminent counsel on whom he has set his heart. 
Yet about midsummer that was not unlike Britain's position. She 
realized as in a blinding flash the enormous outlay to which she 
was committed, and understood that even her vast resources would 
be strained to meet it. A second source of discouragement was 
the extreme popular ignorance of the conditions of war. In every 
campaign there are critical, and even desperate, moments, times 
of black uncertainty, obstacles which seem at the time insuperable. 
It is unnecessary to refer to the position of the North during the 
first two years of the American Civil War. Take even so small and 
simple a campaign as the Sudan War of 1898. The situation after 
the seizure of Berber, the chance of a night attack before Omdurman, 
and the position of Macdonald's brigade during the actual battle, 
were all matters to cause grave uneasiness to those in authority. 
In the ordinary campaign such anxious hours are experienced only 
by the commander-in-chief and his staff. The public knows 
nothing of them till long afterwards, when detailed histories are 
published. But in a war Hke the present, in spite of the paucity 
of official information, the movements were on so gigantic a scale 
that they stood out like large type. Every man understood when 
Paris or Warsaw was in peril, when the Allies failed, and when the 
Germans succeeded. Moreover, the movements were so long drawn 
out that instead of critical hours, as in other campaigns, they in- 
volved critical weeks. In France the ordinary educated man had 


the rudiments of military knowledge which the average Briton 
lacked. He was aware that war has its ups and downs, that what 
seem gigantic losses may have little influence on the ultimate deci- 
sion, and that what looks like a glowing success is often the prelude 
to failure. In Britain we did not know these things, civiHans 
having rarely interested themselves in the science of war, and 
consequently the inevitable mischances of the campaign presented 
themselves to us in darker colours than the truth. 

Since in a real sense Britain was the linchpin of the Allies, 
and since her problem was peculiarly difficult, because her geo- 
graphical position and her history had endowed her with certain 
stiff and unyielding beliefs and certain not very malleable forms 
of government which made new departures slow, her domestic 
history at this moment was part of the main march of the history 
of the war. In the beginning of June the new Coalition Govern- 
ment was getting into working order. The country was alive to 
the need for an unprecedented effort, an effort which involved not 
only the provision of fresh resources but the organization and 
economizing of those which already existed. There was no ques- 
tion any longer of awakening the ordinary man. He was almost 
too much awake, and was inclined to be impatient even of the neces- 
sary preliminaries of reform. But both he and his leaders found 
it hard to reach that clarity of mind and that capacity for sacri- 
fice without reservation which were inspired elsewhere by the 
stringent lessons of direct suffering. For a little our racial energy 
tended to go round in a whirlpool rather than to find a clear outlet. 

The question of national service, hotly canvassed in those 
days, suffered from this general confusion. Those who had always 
preached it were inclined to put their case too high, and argue 
that its acceptance a year ago would have prevented war — a 
proposition something more than disputable. Others were content 
to dub it unnecessary, because of the excellent response to Lord 
Kitchener's appeal for recruits for the new armies. To such it was 
answered that our recruiting had been unscientific, unfair in its 
incidence, and most costl}^ ; that the so-called voluntary system 
was neither truly voluntary nor much of a system ; that the 
whole nation and not merely the fighting part of it required to be 
organized ; and that national service in the true sense meant that 
every citizen must be at the disposal of the State. In a phrase of 
Mr. Lloyd George's, the trench-lines were not only in France and 
Gallipoli, but in every factory and workshop, every town and vil- 
lage in Britain ; and trench-fighting meant being under orders. 


A great crisis calls for the sacrifice not only of time and money and 
life, but of principles — those political principles which, being them- 
selves deductions from facts, are rightly jettisoned when facts 
alter. It would be unfair to underrate the reality of this last 
sacrifice. Trade Unions were required to give up temporarily 
rules and regulations for which they had fought hard for half a 
century. Others were asked to relinquish doctrines of voluntary- 
ism and individualism which were in the warp and woof of their 
minds. But it may fairly be said that the great bulk of the British 
nation was prepared to make any sacrifice of which the necessity 
was clearly proved. The number of those who sincerely believed 
in voluntaryism at any cost was probably small and insignificant 
Li quality. They had no moral justification, for it is not ethically 
nobler to pay men to fight for you than to fight yourself. They 
were tnie doctrinaires who for the sake of an adjunct of liberty 
would have sacrificed liberty itself. Prussia, when confronted by 
Napoleon, declined to fight for her own interests, but she was 
presently compelled to fight for the interests of her conqueror. 
The extreme voluntaryist, like the wife of Master-Builder Solness 
in Ibsen's play, could think only of the safety of his dolls when 
the house was burning. 

Obviously the matter had gone beyond the sphere of argument. 
Pleas for or against national service of the kind familiar before the 
war were no longer relevant. Nor did newspaper propaganda help 
towards a solution. Those who had always advocated the reform 
lay under suspicion of desiring to use a national emergency to 
further their pet scheme. The strong argument against it lay in 
the fact that the Government had not declared it necessary, and 
clearly only the Government were in possession of information 
which allowed them to decide on the necessity. It was not a 
question of the inherent desirability of national service, but of 
whether or not the immediate situation made it imperative. The 
difficulties of the Government were no doubt very great. They 
could not be certain that they had judged the popular temper 
correctly, and, assuming that the objections to compulsion were 
widespread, then its benefits might be too dearly bought at the 
cost of national disunion. Trade Union leaders who agreed to 
suspend Union rules found that they had no power to bind their 
followers, the whole discipline of the Unions having woefully de- 
cUned since the passing of the Trades Disputes Act. Here, again, 
to grasp the nettle boldly would have been the wisest course. 
The State, if it speaks with a resolute voice, has an authority 


which no minor organization can possess. But as yet the Govern- 
mt;nt gave no clear lead to popular opinion. It was obvious from 
their actions that they were converts to a certain measure of 
compulsion, and the speeches of many Ministers seemed to be 
arguments in favour of the general principle. Now in a crisis 
there must be leadership ; and if a sharp change in national habits 
and modes of thought is necessary, that leadership must be bold 
and confident. The previous Government had not hesitated at 
compulsion for purposes of social reform, even unpopular com- 
pulsion, as in the case of the Insurance Act. But for some reason 
compulsion which might involve in certain cases service in the 
field seemed to many different in kind from any compulsion which 
they had hitherto practised. 

The matter was beset with difficulties — of detail as well as of 
principle, and the result was that, after our traditional fashion, 
we compromised and dealt with the question piecemeal. The 
doctrine which statesmen were never tired of preaching, and 
popular leaders apparently accepted — that the whole nation must 
be organized in a great effort and everybody put at the disposal 
of the State — was not given effect to. What our Government 
toyed with was a form of industrial compulsion. With that we 
thought we were famiUar ; we thought that it would be accepted 
without serious opposition, especially on the part of those classes 
whose creed was semi-socialism, and who had clamorously announced 
their opposition to military conscription. It was a strange, topsy- 
turvy procedure, destined to break down at the first trial. Na- 
tional service for everybody without exception was, assuming the 
necessity to be established, a comprehensible and a genuinely 
democratic principle, but industrial compulsion was neither more 
nor less than a vicious type of class legislation. The people at 
large were probably willing enough to respond to any call. They 
were less attached to shibboleths than their nominal leaders, and 
would have done the bidding of any man who spoke clearly and 
with authority. That clear voice did not sound, and in its absence 
we tended to approach the question by shy and timid curves. 
The first tentative towards national service was the passing of a 
Bill for a national register. This was introduced by Mr. Walter 
Long on 29th June, and became law on 15th July, in spite of the 
jeremiads of a few members of ParHament. The Bill for the crea- 
tion of a Munitions Department was passed on 9th June, and it 
was made clear that the new department was a temporary expe- 
dient, to last only during the war. An Order in Council defined 


the Minister's duties as " to examine into and organize the sources 
of supply and the labour available for the supply of any kind of 
munitions of war, the supply of which is in whole or in part under- 
taken by him, and by that means, as far as possible, to ensure such 
supply of munitions for the present war as may be required by 
the Army Council and the Admiralty, or may otherwise be found 
necessary." * It was a supply department to meet estimates 
and requisitions provided by the military and naval authorities. 
It took over from the Army Council most of the functions of 
the Master-General of the Ordnance, the control of Woolwich 
Arsenal, the Government small-arms factories and similar estab- 
lishments, and it was endowed also with a large field of discre- 
tionary activity. 

Mr. Lloyd George set to work at once. He visited the chief 
provincial cities to inquire at first hand into local conditions, and 
he made many stirring speeches in order to rouse the ordinary 
workman to a sense of the gravity of the position. The problem 
he had to face was not materially altered from that to which a 
startled Government had awakened in the early spring. To put 
it briefly, Germany alone of the belligerents had shown herself to 
be industrially organized for war. By Government assistance she 
had kept not only the regular armament works but a vast number 
of civilian factories, which could be adapted for the purpose, in 
a state of constant activity and efficiency. Again, she had for 
some time shared with America the supply of machine-tools for 
the world, and this enabled her to improvise new factories. More- 
over, the cessation of her foreign trade turned her whole energies 
to the making of war material. Her manufacturers had no option 
in the matter ; their only market was their own Government. 
Economic loss proved, not for the first time in history, to be a 
military gain. In Britain the system and position were the precise 
opposite. Government establishments had been decreased, and 
man}^ private firms who, in the past, had made armaments had 
grown disheartened and dropped the business. The Admiralt}^ 
side was different ; there steady Government orders and a large 
amount of foreign business had maintained both public and private 
yards at full strength. But when it came to improvising military 
stores we found our machinery lamentably short. The Govern- 
ment began by trusting to the chief armament-makers, who in 

* The Minister had power to deal not only with armaments in the narrower 
sense, but with any form of production connected with the war — such as clothing, 
boots, jam, tinned foods, railways, huts, etc. 


their tum endeavoured to find snb-contractors throughont the 
country. But, since our private industries had not been organized 
with a view to adaptabihty, the business of increasing production 
proved too slow. There was much cut-throat competition for 
labour ; there was a universal shortage of machine-tools, which 
could not be improvised ; and with the best will in the world both 
Government and manufacturers found the situation beyond them. 
The process of industrial organization, it was realized, must be 
drastic and wholesale, and it must begin at the beginning. 

The Munitions Act — introduced on 23rd June and passed into 
law on 2nd July — was an attempt to put our whole industrial 
system on a war basis. It was framed after much consultation 
with Trade Union leaders and employers of labour, and it aimed 
at applying a moderate degree of compulsion to all industries con- 
cerned directly or indirectly with the supply of war material, to 
replacing in certain cases private management by Government 
control, and to collecting and employing the large amount of 
administrative and inventive talent which had been placed at the 
disposal of the nation. Arbitration was made compulsory in all 
trade disputes, with whatever subject they might be concerned. 
A difference had to be reported to the Board of Trade, which 
would refer it for settlement to an arbitration court or some other 
tribunal. Strikes and lock-outs were forbidden unless a month 
had elapsed and the Board of Trade had not intervened. Primarily 
this rule referred only to munition works, but the Minister of 
Munitions was empowered to apply it by proclamation to other 
industries. The coal miners and the cotton operatives objected, 
and it was agreed that, if machinery existed for settling disputes 
without stoppage of work, this should stand without Government 
interference. However, in the last resort, the right of State inter- 
ference even in these industries could be exercised. The Minister 
of Munitions, if he thought it necessary for the successful prosecu- 
tion of the war, could declare any works " a controlled establish- 
ment." * This step involved four important consequences. In 
the first place, employers' profits were limited. The owner was 
permitted to take out of the gross profits the net profits plus one- 
fifth, the rest to go to the State. Net profits were to be ascer- 
tained by taking the average net profits " during two corresponding 
periods completed just before the outbreak of war." A small 

* Up to 6th August, 356 establishments had been declared " controlled " — a 
very small proportion of the total engaged in war contracts. The machine-tDoi 
makers were taken over en bloc. 


committee was appointed to decide difficult questions about de- 
preciation and such like matters, and the Minister had power, if 
the arrangement worked unfairly in any case, to submit the question 
to referees. In the second place, Trade Union rules, and all rules, 
practices, and customs not having the force of law were to be 
suspended, if they tended to restrict production and employment.* 
This was for the period of the war only, and was in no way to 
prejudice the future position of the workmen. It was understood 
that wages would not be affected by the introduction of semi-skilled 
or female labour. Disputes under this head were to be decided by 
the Board of Trade or arbitrators appointed by it. In the third 
place — in order to prevent a sudden and arbitrary decline in 
earnings — no changes in wages were to be made without the con- 
sent of the Minister or an arbitration tribunal. Finally, the Min- 
ister was empowered to make special regulations to which all 
employees in a controlled establishment must submit. The weak 
part of the Act was its penalty clauses. Small fines, which might 
be deducted from wages, were imposed for breaches of its provi- 
sions, the maximum being £5 per man per day. Penalties were 
to be imposed by a munitions tribunal, which, besides a president, 
would be composed equally of representatives of Labour and 
Capital. To prevent idle competition, employers were forbidden 
to give work to a man who had recently worked at munitions, 
unless six weeks had elapsed since he left his prior employment, 
or he held a certificate from his last employer or from a munitions 

Mr. Lloyd George announced various co-ordinate activities. 
The country was divided for munitions purposes into ten areas, 
each controlled by a committee of local business men. Efforts 
were to be made to bring back skilled workers from the front and 
from the new armies still training at home. The Munitions Depart- 
ment, with its headquarters close to the War Office, was organized 
with the usual paraphernalia of a Government office. At first 
there was some confusion as to its personnel. Mr. Lloyd George 
was himself too busy with speech-making and ministerial work to 
be a possible administrative head. The services of many of the 

* The way had been prepared for this step so far as the Trade Union leaders 
were concerned. On I7th-i9th March there was a conference between the Government 
and the representatives of thirty-five labour organizations. An agreement was 
reached that for the period of the war " the relaxation of the p.csent trade practices 
is imperative, and tliat each union be recommended to take into favourable con- 
sideration such changes in working conditions or trade customs as may be necessary 
with a view to accelerating the output of war munitions or equipments." 


ablest business men in Britain were available, but there was grave 
danger at the start that knowledge and earnestness would be 
wasted owing to the lack of a co-ordinating authority at the top. 
A sub-department for inventions — an admirable scheme — was 
presently organized, and did good service. Less successful was 
the plan for a Mobile Munitions Brigade to be recruited voluntarily 
among the workers. After an elaborate advertising campaign, 
involving much expenditure of pubhc funds, some 100,000 volun- 
teers were enrolled, but an enormous proportion of these were 
already employed on war business, and could not be spared. A 
few thousands at the most were the result of the enterprise. 

The new department entered upon its task with abundant 
energy. But in the nature of things results must be slow. It 
was the labour of Hercules to improvise a gigantic system of State 
socialism under the name of " controlled establishments," and to 
combine in the service of the State the scientific and industrial 
talent of the people. The Munitions Act, for all its merits, gave 
an inadequate weapon to the hand of the Government. It had 
begun at the wrong end. By introducing compulsion only for 
one class it provided no sanction for the enforcing of such com- 
pulsion. Its penal clauses were futile. Fines were no remedy 
against the resistance of a mass of men, and since under the Trades 
Disputes Act the Union funds were inviolate, any large body of 
strikers could set the Government at defiance. 

Proof was not slow in coming. On ist April the Miners' Fed- 
eration of South Wales and Monmouth had handed in notices to 
terminate the existing wages agreement within three months, and 
to negotiate another. The Board of Trade attempted to make 
terms, and offered certain proposals into which we need not enter. 
It was one of the old disputes, so familiar in peace time, between 
Labour and Capital for the division of the spoils. On 12th July the 
delegates met at Cardiff, and rejected the Board of Trade proposals. 
Their executive advised them to continue at work under day-to- 
day contracts, pending further negotiations, but they refused to 
accept anything less than their original proposals, and resolved to 
stop the collieries on 15th July unless their demands were conceded. 
The miners, at their own request, had been excluded from the 
Munitions Act, but their leaders had undertaken that there would 
be no strikes or stoppages during the war. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, their official leaders had small authority, and the men were 
led by self-elected extremists. On 13th July the Government by 
proclamation extended the Munitions Act to the South Wales coal 


area. This made it an offence to leave work, and enjoined the 
reference of the dispute to arbitration. That same day the Miners' 
Federation of Great Britain advised the men to work from day to 
day, and the colHery owners put themselves wholly at the Gov- 
ernment's disposal. Next day the executive again tried to per- 
suade the miners to keep to their work pending a settlement. The 
advice was not taken, and on the following day, the 15th, 200,000 
men went on strike. That day the delegates had met at Cardiff, 
and by a majority refused to countermand the strike — an act 
which constituted a defiance of the Royal Proclamation of 13th 
July, and an open challenge to the nation. 

The Government proceeded to set up, in terms of the Act, 
a munitions tribunal for South Wales and Monmouth. On the 
i6th, Mr. Runciman, the President of the Board of Trade, saw 
the executive, but found them powerless. That day several fur- 
naces were damped down. The situation had reached a dead- 
lock. How could the Government fine or imprison 200,000 men ? 
Their Act had broken down under its first trial. Many of the miners 
— especially the older men — felt the shame of the situation acutely, 
but they were bound by loyalty to their fellows and by the net 
which agitators had woven round them. On the 19 th the position 
was grave indeed. That day Mr. Lloyd George went to Cardiff, 
accompanied by two other Ministers, Mr. Runciman and Mr. 
Arthur Henderson, and met the executive. Next morning terms 
of settlement were arranged, which the delegates accepted, and the 
men returned to work. These terms were in substance the grant- 
ing of the men's demands. An emotional meeting, at which Mr. 
Lloyd George spoke with great seriousness and frankness, showed 
the tension of everybody's nerves and the rehef of the miners at 
being extricated from a position where they were fast earning 
the contempt of their fellow-countrymen. It was an ugly episode, 
which did little credit to any one concerned in it. The stoppage 
of labour meant the reduction of our daily coal output by 200,000 
tons, at a time when every ton was needed. It had the worst effect 
upon public opinion among our Allies, and it exasperated our 
sorely tried troops in the field. A settlement was only reached by 
the submission of the Government — submission to men to whom, 
collectively and individually, attached the guilt of treason. The 
blame must fall impartially on both sides — on the Government 
for not having anticipated what obviously must happen and pre- 
venting it in time, on the men for sinking their patriotism and 
good sense in a selfish trade squabble. The main lesson of the 


incident was the folly of half measures and irrational compromises. 
Compulsion appHed piecemeal to one class could neither be enforced 
nor defended. 

The question of finance, since the easy confidence of the winter 
had gone, began to weigh heavily on the Government by the end 
of May. We were waging war on an extravagant scale as com- 
pared with France, and still more with Germany, This was partly 
due to the fact that we had to improvise so much, for things done 
in a hurry are always expensive. It was due still more to our 
voluntary system of recruiting, which meant that we bad to offer 
terms high enough to attract men from the labour market, and that, 
owing to our inability to select our material, we had to take often 
the costhest type of recruit. A few figures will make this clear. 
We needed a great number of motor-drivers for our mechanical 
transport, and to attract these we paid six shillings a day, and a 
lavish allowance for dependents. Germany secured as many as 
she needed at something below the ordinary wage rate of peace 
time. The German allowance for a wife was 9s. a month from 
May to October, and a minimum of 12s. per month for the rest of 
the year. Her rate for each child and dependent was a minimum 
of 6s. monthly. The British allowance for a wife alone began by 
being 7s. yd. per week ; it was raised in October to 12s. 6d. per 
w^ek; and in March 1915 to 17s. 6d. Higher rates were paid 
to the families of non-commissioned officers and to those resident 
in the London area. Since our system was unselective, we took 
a large number of married men with families. The patriotism 
of such recruits was admirable, but from the point of view of the 
national finances it would have been better if their places had 
been taken by unmarried men. Again, the Government continued 
civil expenditure which may have been justifiable enough in times 
of peace, but was no better than waste in war. Further, rich men 
were allowed to make very large profits out of material directly 
or indirectly connected with the war, profits which meant a loss 
to the public purse. 

Had that purse been bottomless this extravagance might have 
been defended ; but it was becoming painfully clear that our 
financial resources had strict limits. We were already expending 
some 1,000 millions a year on the actual conduct of the war, and 
our national revenue fell short by some £80,000 of the mere in- 
terest on this outlay. In such a crisis, whether in public or private 
hfe, there are three means of remedy — to reduce expenditure, to 
increase income, or to do both together. Obviously our mihtary 


expenditure could not be seriously reduced, for the lavish scale 
we had instituted at the beginning must be maintained more or 
less unchanged to the end. The saving could only be in our civil 
expenditure. Hence arose the need for universal thrift — economy 
not only in civil government but in every detail of the private life 
of each citizen. Normally our imports from foreign countries 
were paid for by our exports, by freights, and by the interest on 
the securities of those countries held in British hands. In time of 
war our exports were curtailed, our freights yielded less, and, on 
the other hand, from certain foreign countries we increased our 
imports under the head of munitions. If the balance of trade was 
not to go fatally against us, it was essential to reduce our normal 
imports. This could only be done by a rigorous economy which 
decreased the consumption of imported goods — not only articles 
of luxury, but staples like meat and grain. Our actual expenditure 
under all heads must be diminished, and so far as possible British- 
produced substitutes found for the necessaries of life. The thrift 
campaign was inaugurated by some of the chief authorities 
in British finance, and warmly seconded by the Government. 
Excellent and most practical instructions were issued to house- 
holders as to how to avoid waste and how to exclude foreign 
goods from their daily bill. There was reason to believe that 
this crusade made a genuine appeal to many thousands of 
homes. Men and women who were unable to serve their 
country otherwise welcomed the chance of this humble but in- 
valuable service. 

The problem of increasing the national revenue was faced with 
courage and good sense. A loan on a colossal scale was necessary, 
and that could only come out of the savings of our countrymen. 
In November 19 14 we had issued a loan of ;£35o,ooo,ooo, at a dis- 
count of 5 per cent., and carrying 3I per cent, interest. It was 
resolved in June 1915 that another loan should be raised, since it 
was impracticable to sell our foreign securities, and the method of 
renewable Treasury bills was inconvenient, and did not bring in 
the general public. It was further decided that the new loan 
should be issued at par, and that every effort should be made to 
popularize it with the humblest investor. It is the multitude of 
small subscriptions by which .a national loan succeeds, just as it is 
the manufacturer of some cheap article of universal use who makes 
the largest fortune. The new loan was to be of an indefinite 
amount, and it was to carry 4I per cent, interest — a wonderful 
change from twenty years before, when Consols at 2f per cent. 

1915J THE NEW LOAN. 159 

stood at Ii2|.* Subscribers of £100 and its multiples applied 
through the Bank of England ; but vouchers for 5s., los., and £1 
were purchasable at any money order office in the country, and 
these vouchers carried 5 per cent, interest. Everything was made 
easy for the small investor. A vast " publicity " campaign adver- 
tised him of the benefits of the scheme. When his scrip vouchers 
reached £5 or any multiple, he could exchange them for a stock 
certificate, and he received a bonus on the exchange. War Loan 
stock bought through the Post Office or a savings bank could be 
sold at any time through the same means at the current market 
price, and scrip vouchers would be accepted as the equivalent of 
cash in making deposits. The whole loan was redeemable at par 
in 1925 at the discretion of the State, and was compulsorily re- 
deemable in 1945. A new and interesting departure was the 
opportunity given to holders of the Three-and-a-half loan of 
November 1914, of Consols, and of other Government securities, 
to convert into the new loan. The motive of the concession was 
to increase subscriptions to the new loan, for the aforesaid holders 
could only convert by also taking up stock in the latter. 

The high rate of interest, the right of conversion, the privileges 
given to small investors, the widespread " publicity," and the turn- 
ing of the national mind at the moment to questions of thrift 
combined to make the loan a conspicuous success. The lists 
closed on loth July, and on that day the amount subscribed through 
the Bank of England was £570,000,000, and through the Post 
Office £24,000,000. It was far the greatest loan ever raised — 
greater by £144,000,000 than that which Germany claimed to have 
floated at a higher rate of interest and accompanied by many 
dubious financial expedients. The finance of the British loan 
was wholly sound and straightforward. For the first time in our 
history we attempted what many economists had long urged — the 
popularization and retail sale of a premier Government security. 
The only doubt entertained was as to whether we were not raising 
too large a proportion of our funds by loan, and thereby placing 
an undue burden on posterity. Though increases in taxation had 
been made, the amount thereby contributed was a very small 
fraction of the total. It had not been so in our earlier wars. The 
eight years' War of the Austrian Succession cost us more than 
£43,000,000 ; of this nearly a third was paid out of revenue. The 

* It was a cheap loan, however, compared with those raised during the Napo- 
leonic wars, which were issued at a heavy discount and accompanied by an extrava- 
gant system of bonuses. It has been estimated that during that war, on the averag*?, 
for every ;£ioo received, £169 of debt was creaUd. 


Seven Years' War cost £82,000,000, and a quarter came from 
revenue. It is true that the American War was financed mainly 
by loans, but in the great struggle with Napoleon fully 47 per cent, 
was raised by taxation — an amazing effort, which was possible 
only because of the rise at the same time of British industrialism. 
Even so the burden left by that war was sufficiently crushing, and 
for six or seven years after Waterloo the economic health of Britain 
was in a parlous state. Nearly half the cost of the Crimean War 
was met out of revenue. To meet our new liabilities increased 
taxation had given us in June no more than £65,000,000 a year. 
A deputation from the City of London, which about this time 
met the Prime Minister, urged among other things the taxation of 
imported articles and a wholesale revision of the income tax, so 
as to relieve the arbitrariness of its incidence, and reach the wages 
of the prosperous workman. As things stood the middle classes 
were bearing a disproportionate burden. If the taxation of im- 
ports tended to check their flow, that, as we have seen, was in 
itself a desirable end. If, on the contrary, they still came in, their 
taxation would give us revenue. 

No survey of British effort would be complete without a refer- 
ence to the work done by voluntary bodies and by individuals in 
the thousand and one paths of charity which the war revealed. 
The British Red Cross Society, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, 
and the Voluntary Aid Detachments provided a nursing organiza- 
tion which could not be paralleled in the world. Private hospitals 
were sent to Serbia, where they grappled with the insoluble problem 
of an army ill supplied with medical comforts and scourged by 
deadly epidemics, and lost many devoted members of their staffs. 
Nurses and ambulances went to the French, Russian, and Belgian 
fronts, and the civilian population of France and Belgium were 
cared for by special organizations. The immense business of deal- 
ing with the refugee Belgian population was skilfully handled, 
and they were temporarily absorbed into the social life of Britain, 
while with the assistance of a commission of neutrals food supplies 
were sent to Belgium itself. Large sums were raised for the relief 
of distress in Poland and for a dozen other charitable purposes. 
Happily there was little immediate distress in Britain, and the 
energies of her people could be devoted to war purposes and the 
succour of the invaded lands. Our own troops were amply sup- 
plied with the small luxuries and comforts which are not included 
in rations. Scarcely a household in the Empire but did its part. 
The remotest cottages in the Highlands, the loneliest farms in 


Alberta and Queensland, were connected by strange threads with 
the far-away theatres of war. During these months women began 
to appear in many novel employments. As ticket-collectors, 
tram-conductors, car-drivers, bill-posters, postmen, and in a score 
of other tasks, they released men for the fighting line. Never 
had the women of Britain shown to finer advantage. Of all who 
were compelled to remain at home, they were the chief sufferers, 
for they had given sons and brothers, husbands and lovers, 
to the field of danger. From the beginning they realized the 
gravity of the struggle. The women's movement of recent years 
had given to a large class a special organization and discipline, 
which was turned to admirable purpose. The leaders of that 
movement in the press and on the platform did a great work in 
rousing the nation, and none dealt more trenchantly with counsels 
of supineness and peace. The women of Britain asked only for 
the chance of service, and when the munitions difficulty revealed 
itself they were foremost in offering their work. What had hap- 
pened in Germany and France was beginning to take place in 
Britain. The barriers of sex were falling, Hke the barriers of class, 
before the trumpet call of the national need. 

The most signal weakness which the first year had revealed 
in the Alliance was its lack of central direction. We have seen 
what Germany did with her unequally yoked allies, putting pre- 
cision into the Turks and homogeneity into the Austrian legions, 
and turning every economic advantage of her colleagues to the 
profit of the whole. France, Russia, Italy, and Britain, though in 
spirit more united than the Teutonic League, had by midsummer 
still failed to pool their assets scientifically, and to make full use 
of their advantages of position. The buying of war stores by the 
different Powers was still often at cross purposes. Events proved 
that the different strategic plans had not been perfectly harmo- 
nized, and that the vital matter of munitions was not treated as 
one problem, concerning not Russia and Britain as individuals, 
but the whole Allied front. It is true that much had been done 
by conferences to make the financing of the war uniform ; but 
even in this sphere Germany would have carried the polic}' further. 
She would have devised that which Pitt appealed for in the House 
of Commons in 1783, " a complete economic system adapted to 
the new features of the situation." Had France, Russia, Italy, 
Britain, Japan, Belgium, and Serbia formed themselves into an 
economic league to control all matters of international commerce. 


a formidable weapon would have been prepared against their 
enemies and a powerful lever to influence the policy of hesitating 

The main asset of the Allies was their unity of purpose and single- 
ness of heart. They had agreed to make peace as one Power, and 
they were wholly resolved to make no peace which should be inde- 
cisive. When Charles XII. of Sweden was faced, at the age of 
eighteen, with an attack by three armies, he told his council : "I 
have resolved never to engage in an unjust war, but, on the other 
hand, never to conclude a just one but by the ruin of my foes." 
In such a spirit all the AlUes now faced the future. Their situation 
was stronger than could be gathered from a map of rival positions. 
Every day was adding to the numbers of their armies. They were 
moving towards the construction of a machine as strong as the 
German — gropingly and slowly, it is true, but steadily. Time was 
still on their side. No one of their armies had been destroyed. 
Their losses, great as they were, had been made good. More and 
more, in the eyes not only of soldiers but of politicians and peoples, 
it was clear that Germany would be defeated only by the destruc- 
tion of her field armies, and that all her gains of territory were 
irrelevant except in so far as they postponed that purpose. Hence 
the conquests which exhilarated Berhn were borne by the Allies — 
even by those at whose expense they had been made — with a cer- 
tain robust philosophy. A lion is the less dangerous to an African 
village when it has gorged itself upon a portion of the herds. What 
Germany had fondly counted upon had not come to pass. They 
were working harmoniously, in spite of the strenuous efforts of 
their enemy to stir up strife. Certain German sympathizers in 
Britain attempted to set labour and capital by the ears ; their 
cousins in France whispered to the French people how infamous 
it was that Britons should be going on strike in such a crisis, and 
insisted on the shortness of the British Hne ; while others in Russia, 
helped by the dregs of the Baltic-German bureaucracy, quoted 
certain unfortunate witticisms of French generals, pointed to the 
stagnation in the West, and observed that France would resist 
no doubt to the last drop of blood, but that that blood would be 
Russian. On the surface it looked as if the field for mischief- 
making were clear. But three things combined to make the seeds 
of strife sown by Germany fall upon unreceptive ground. The 
first was the gravity of the crisis and the intense antagonism which 
Germany had inspired. Men engaged in what they beheve to be a 
holy war are the less inclined to be captious about their colleagues. 


The second was the goodwill between the Allied armies brought 
about by the sincere admiration felt by each for the performance 
of the others. The memories of the Mame and Ypres and Le 
Cateau, of Rava Russka, Augustovo, and Przasnysz, were the best 
preventives of a carping spirit. Most important of all, each of 
the Allies was profoundly conscious of its shortcomings, and was 
more disposed to criticize its own unpreparedness than that of its 
neighbours. Each was busy setting its own house in order. 

This modesty, admirable in itself, might, if carried too far, 
have conduced to those evil results on which Germany counted. 
She cunningly hoped that a spirit of doubt and disquiet would 
go abroad among the AUies, and lead to the fall of ministers and 
the dismissal of generals. In Britain, where, since the popular 
voice was most easily audible, criticism might have been most 
expected, we sinned, on the whole, httle in this respect. Indeed, 
under the influence of Lincoln's warning against " swapping horses 
in the middle of the stream," we were inclined to be almost too 
tolerant of proved administrative incompetence and too chary of 
even well-informed and patriotic criticism. It is a mistake to 
change horses in the middle of the ford ; but if the horse can only 
lie down, change is necessary to avoid drowning. The fact that 
competent critics were patriotically silent left the necessary task 
of public watchfulness to men who had small authority in the 

The position of neutral states on that 28th of June was stiU 
obscure. Italy had joined the Allies, but the Balkan nations — 
the only ones remaining in Europe whose decision from a military 
point of view was vital — were still perplexed by contradictory in- 
terests. In Greece, though M. Venizelos had won a victory at the 
polls, he was not yet in office, and his country was uncommitted. 
Bulgaria had come to a railway agreement with Turkey, but had 
as yet taken no overt step to join the Teutonic League. Rumania, 
though undoubtedly influenced by Italy's decision, was still keep- 
ing an anxious eye on Bulgaria. She did her best to preserve a 
strict aloofness, and refused to allow officially the passage of war 
munitions to Turkey through her territory. 

The United States, whose markets provided the Allies with 
war materials, was finding her position one of great and grow- 
ing difficulty. President Wilson's pohcy, though expressed by 
him in an academic phraseology which seemed curiously inept 
in such a crisis, was based upon a judicial view of American 


interests.* The pitfalls which beset her path were not fairly esti- 
mated by European observers. But Germany seemed determined 
to make neutrality impossible. The sinking of the Lusitania drew a 
strong Note from the American Government, a Note which brought 
about the resignation of the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bryan, who had 
spent his life in a world of emotional verbiage. To this protest 
on behalf of neutrals against the barbarity of her submarine prac- 
tices, Germany replied defiantly. In the middle of July Mr. Lan- 
sing, Mr. Bryan's successor, presented what would have been 
regarded by the older diplomacy as an ultimatum. He laid down 
three principles : that the high seas are free to neutral ships ; that 
this freedom can only be interfered with after the character and 
cargo of the ship has been ascertained ; and that the lives of non- 
combatants can only be lawfully endangered if the vessel seeks 
to escape after summons or attempts resistance. A repetition of 
the breaches of these principles of which Germany had been guilty 
would, said the Note, be regarded as an unfriendly act. Germany, 
through her press, replied with an arrogant disdain ; and a few 
days after the receipt of the Note her submarines sank an American 
steamer off the Orkney Islands. The atmosphere was electric, 
but what with another Power would have meant an immediate 
declaration of war did not necessarily involve such a consequence 
in the case of the United States. Her diplomatists had never 
regarded " terms of art " in the European way, and the phrase 
" unfriendly act," which elsewhere was the wording of an ulti- 
matum, was with her only a strong type of protest. 

The relations with Britain were also, in spite of very real 
goodwill on both sides, moving to an impasse. In March, it will 
be remembered, the British Government declared a blockade 
of Germany — a blockade which, since it could not be made fully 
effective, was not in accord with the accepted principles of inter- 
national law. It decreed the seizure and confiscation of non- 
contraband goods of German origin, ownership, or destination 
carried in neutral ships to neutral ports, though Britain did not 
propose to apply the rule with any technical rigour. This prac- 
tice involved a considerable breach of the recognized code of 
maritime law, a breach which Britain justified by the exceptional 

* " Any question of war involves not only a question of right, not only a question 
of justice, but also a question of expediency. Before any Government goes to war 
it ought to be convinced, not only that it has just cause for war, but that there is 
something which renders war its duty ; a duty compounded of two considerations 
— the first what the country may owe to others ; the second what she owes to her 
self." — Canning : Speech on the Spanish Question, 1823. 


character of the circumstances and by the international anar- 
chism of Gennany, and defended on the precedent of the novel 
methods adopted by America during her Civil War. The rival 
views were fully stated in the correspondence which passed during 
July between Sir Edward Grey and the American Ambassador in 
London. There was a great deal to be said for the British con- 
tention ; there was much to be said for the American counterplea. 
But obviously so grave a matter could not depend only on the 
argumentation of international lawyers and the Foreign Offices 
which employed them. The plain facts were that America was 
seriously affected by British policy in perhaps her most vital inter- 
est — her cotton export. She saw her trade with enemy countries 
and to some extent with neutral countries hampered, and this on 
a plea which was manifestly at variance with accepted international 
practice. It did not convince the Southern planter to be told 
that the North in the Civil War also had done something in the 
way of rewriting international law. America was on strong ground, 
and she knew it, and she pressed her claims with much force during 
the summer months. It was gradually becoming apparent that 
the British plan, though reasonable enough in itself, would have 
to be modified. 

Cotton was the chief difficulty, and three steps were pressed 
upon the Government as a solution. The first was to declare 
cotton contraband. It was clear that it was a most vital munition 
of war, since it was practically essential to the manufacture of 
nitro-cellulose, the basis of most modern propellent charges. It 
was perfectly true that to declare cotton contraband would have 
given us no weapon to restrict its import to Germany beyond what 
we had at present, though we should have been able not only to 
stop but to confiscate cargoes. But, combined with the doctrine 
of continuous vo3^age, it would have given us an authority which 
America could recognize. She herself had made cotton contra- 
band in her Civil War, and on the facts it was now a military 
munition like sulphur and saltpetre in former days. In the second 
place, it was suggested that neutral states might be put on rations, 
and that we might permit only a certain amount of cotton to be 
consigned to them, based on their average consumption for the 
three years before the war. Finally there was a proposal to pur- 
chase that portion of the American cotton crop which was normally 
exported to the enemy countries, and to hold it till after the war. 
The importance of the question was as great as its intricacy. On 
28th June it was the foremost problem that we had to face in 


connection with our policy towards neutrals, and, since America 
was the munitioning ground of all the Allies, it vitally affected the 
whole Allied cause. The wheels of diplomacy move slowly, and 
the months passed without a solution. Happily the goodwill of 
the majority of the American people, and the genuine anxiety of 
Ministers on both sides of the Atlantic to reach an agreement, 
prevented the controversy reaching the stage of crisis. 

In reviewing a year of war we look naturally to see what new 
mihtary doctrines had justified themselves, what novel methods 
in tactics and strategy had appeared in the various theatres. We 
find nothing revolutionary, nothing at variance with the accepted 
practices of war. One German principle had been clearly justified, 
but by those who had reflected on the subject it had never been 
seriously denied. That doctrine was the crushing effect of artillery 
both against forts and field positions. The German practice of 
massed infantry attacks had nothing in itself to recommend it ; 
when it succeeded it was only because of the artillery preparation 
which preceded it. It was less a device deliberately selected than 
a concessio propter infirmitatem, necessary to armies which had to 
absorb into their ranks, as the war went on, much inferior fighting 
material. Even as regards artillery the special German merit was 
not the tactical handling of it, but the ample supply. Heavy 
field pieces and machine guns in great quantities involve certain 
tactics, as inevitably as the length of reach of a boxer determines 
his method. The supreme achievement of the German Staff was 
that they saw precisely the part modern science could be made to 
play in modem warfare, and that they kept their eyes resolutely 
fixed on it. Since they were organized for war not only militarily 
but industrially, they could concentrate as a nation upon a single 
purpose in a way impossible to the freer civic organisms of their 
opponents. Germany made use of all her assets ; her blow was 
weighted with her full national strength — that, in a sentence, was 
the gist of her excellence. 

The Allies might claim that their theories of war had on the 
whole been justified whenever it had been possible to apply them. 
The attack in open order, and their high standard of individual rifle 
fire, provided good results wherever the enemy's guns allowed 
fighting at close quarters, Man for man, the average Frenchman, 
Russian, and Briton had demonstrated his equahty with, if not 
his superiority to, the German soldier. It was not a question of 
courage, for the bravery of the German ranks could not be over- 


praised, but rather of dash, fortitude, stamina, and that inde- 
finable thing which we may call temperamental predominance. 
This was conspicuously proved in bayonet work, in bomb-throw- 
ing, and especially in most daring and successful aerial reconnais- 
sance. Wherever individual qualities were demanded there the 
Alhes were conspicuous. Our lighting machine, too, so tar as it 
concerned the human element, was at least as good as the German. 
It was only in material, in the scientific aids to war, that we were 
excelled, and then only in one class of weapon, which, however, 
happened to be the most vital. 

The naval position was wholly in favour of the Allies. In all 
the seas of the world German merchantmen and German ships of 
war had disappeared. In the north-eastern comer of the Adriatic, 
Italy held the Austrian fleet ; in the ^gean, the British and 
French fleets were operating against the Dardanelles. The sole 
German success, the Battle of Coronel, had been promptly redeemed 
by von Spec's destruction at the Falkland Islands. The Ger- 
man High Sea Fleet lay behind the shelter of the Frisian Islands. 
The Battle of the Bight of Heligoland showed that Britain could 
carry the war inside German territorial waters, and the one serious 
German raid had been checked and defeated in the battle of 
24th January. The boasted German submarine campaign had 
effected nothing of a mihtary purpose, except the withdrawal of 
the larger British battleships from the Dardanelles. Up to a date 
early in July it had sunk 98 British merchantmen — or 195 if we 
include trawlers — 30 AlUed ships, and less than 50 neutrals, and 
had thereby raised international difficulties for Germany which far 
outbalanced these trivial successes. The British losses by sub- 
marines were only about ij per cent, of our total shipping, and the 
new risk did not raise insurance rates or affect in the slightest 
degree the nerve of our merchant seamen. The boasts of Count 
Reventlow were conclusively answered by Mr. Balfour in a letter 
to an American correspondent — a letter which stated with admi- 
rable clearness and justice the achievements of the British navy. 
He pointed out that in the past year it had performed all the 
functions of a fleet in war : it had driven the enemy's commerce 
from the sea, and protected its own ; it had rendered the enemy's 
fleet impotent ; it had made the sea transport of enemy troops 
impossible ; it had transported its own troops at will ; it had 
secured their supplies, and could, when necessary, assist in their 

The British Grand Fleet during the year was, like the country 


of the proverb, happy in that it had no history. Without any of the 
great battleships firing a shot it had fulfilled its task. Its potent 
inaction was not idleness. It was ready and anxious to meet its 
opponent as soon as he ventured forth. But till that day came it 
held the seas and waited, as Nelson's fleet for two years before 
Trafalgar watched the coasts of the enemy. How great a strain 
this duty involved is beyond a civilian's estimate. Day and night 
the great ships kept the sea, in the stormy winter months steaming 
without lights in black darkness, with the perpetual menace of 
mines and submarines around them. They were hidden from the 
nation's gaze. No achievements filled the papers. There was 
nothing to relieve the tedium of their toil or key the spirit of their 
men to that high pitch which is the reward of war. In months of 
danger and heavy labour they had to endure something worse 
than the monotony of peace. Yet the Grand Fleet kept its health 
unimpaired, its nerves steady, its eagerness unabated. Such a 
moral achievement was not the least of the triumphs of the 
year, for he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh 
a city. 

A great war usually throws up a great soldier or statesman, 
but not necessarily at the beginning. England at various times 
in her history had been long in travail before she had produced a 
man. Her Civil War was well advanced before it saw the advent 
of Cromwell and Montrose. The French Revolution was four years 
old before the star of Napoleon rose above the horizon, and the men 
who led the armies of France during those years were none of them 
in the first rank. Britain had to wait fourteen years for the 
coming of Wellington. The American Civil War was an exception, 
for almost from the start two leaders of the highest genius, Lee 
and Jackson, sprang full panoplied into fame, like Athene from 
the brain of Zeus. But the case of the North restored the rule. 
Lincoln had to work through a long succession of inferior generals, 
McClellan, McDowell, Burnside, Pope, Banks, and Hooker, before 
he found in Grant a competent soldier able to use effectively the 
vast resources of the Union. Unless a war is originated by a genius 
like Alexander or Charles XII., there must generally be a long 
interregnum till the nation finds the leader who possesses that 
" stellar and undiminishable " something which is greatness. How 
long had the Punic War to wait for Scipio, or the Roman Revolu- 
tion for Julius Caesar ? 

In modem warfare it would seem that the period of waiting 
must be longer, for modern warfare sunk the individual in the 


machine. Just as industrialism tended to turn the craftsman into 
a mere machine-tender, so the latest developments of war trans- 
formed the soldier into a kind of operative. Till the other day 
we were accustomed to speak of " fighting races "—of men like the 
tribesmen of the Indian frontier, or the Boers — whose life had given 
them a natural hardihood, an eye for country, quick senses, and 
great bodily endurance, and to contrast with them the products of 
urban civilization who were bom with none of these gifts. But it 
looked as if we must revise our views. Our new war machine 
abolished, or at any rate greatly modified, the distinction between 
martial and non-martial peoples. The ideal soldier appeared to 
be the skilled mechanic, who won his fortitude partly from a high 
discipline and partly from confidence in his machine. The noble 
savage with the spear had fallen before the lesser physique of civi- 
lization armed with a rifle. Now it would seem that the soldier, 
trained in the various branches of the military art, and full of 
valour and self-reliance, must yield to the pallid operative who 
could handle at a distance the levers and bolts of a great gun. 
In the same way modem warfare gave small chance for individual 
generalship. Surprises, night marches, ingenious feints were sel- 
dom possible. The conditions were rigidly prescribed, and could 
rarelv be dominated and altered by the most fertile mind. The 
general had also become a machine-tender. The brains — the 
genius, if you will — were to be found in the construction of the 
machine, for its use was more or less a mechanical task. Some 
men would be more skilled in it than others, but the highest skiU 
was not the same thing as generalship in the old sense. A Marl- 
borough, a Caesar, even a Napoleon, would beat ineffectual wings 
against the new barriers. 

All this was true, and those who declaimed during this stage of 
the campaign against the absence of genius in generalship forgot 
that generalship, like other arts, needs the proper occasion. Supply 
will scarcely be forthcoming if the demand is nil. In former days 
war was three-fourths an art and one-fourth a science. Now it was 
at least three-fourths science, and the human element was circum- 
scribed. . . . Yes, but not wholly, and not in the last resort. For 
a machine is not immortal. It may break down through internal 
weakness, or because it is confronted with a machine of equal 
strength. WTien that day came war would become an art once 
more, and individual generalship and individual fighting quality 
would recover their old pre-eminence. 

The first year of the war revealed no superlative distinction in 


statesmanship in any of the belligerent countries. Statesmen of 
the higher type may be roughly divided into builders and gov- 
ernors. Since Napoleon the world had seen two constructive brains 
of the first order — Bismarck and Cavour,* and one governing mind 
not less great, that of Abraham Lincoln. The second decade of the 
twentieth century saw several men alive in Europe who seemed 
to have the essentials of the higher statesmanship, M. Venizelos, 
for example, had the talent of his famous countryman for making 
a small town into a great city, and under his lead a new Greece 
was emerging. But there were as yet few outstanding figures, 
though many of great respectability. Russia still suffered from 
her bureaucratic system, largely German in origin, which stifled 
true nationalism, and since the death of Stolypin she had had no 
political leader of the first quality. In Britain our system, as we 
have seen in an earlier chapter, discouraged administrative effi- 
ciency, and administrators cannot be easily improvised. Men of 
proved executive ability — such as some of our Imperial adminis- 
trators — were too remote from common politics to be readily made 
use of. But the lack was most glaring in Germany. Bethmann- 
Hollweg, Jagow, and Helf^erich were very ordinary folk ; but they 
still wore the giant's mantle which had descended from the great 
days of Bismarck, and for a time it covered their insufficiencies. 
Perhaps the two strongest personalities in Europe were the Italian, 
Sonnino, and the Hungarian, Tisza. Both were men a little cold 
and rigid in temperament, but both had the steeliest kind of reso- 
lution. They saw their path clearly, and walked in it with 
undeviating steps. 

A constructive statesman of the Bismarck type was scarcely 
needed in this crisis. Far-reaching policies had to be put aside 
for the moment, and Europe must Uve in the hour. But a govern- 
ing statesman — the mind which can maintain its purpose undivided, 
which is an inspirer of fortitude in others, which in hectic moments 
keeps its judgment, and which has that potent and pervasive 
effect on the temper of a whole people which is what we mean by 
pohtical genius — that, indeed, was clamorously required. Such 
a one as Lincoln would, perhaps, have best filled the part. But 
by midsummer of 19 15 there was no sign of a new Lincoln in any 
belligerent land. 

It is not often that a country possesses at one and the same 

♦ Cecil Rhodes was of the same type, but he wrought on a smaller scale and in 
the face of far fewer difficulties. I am speaking here of the statesman as man of 
action. Statesmen who contented themselves with ventilating or inventing political 
dogmas were as common as peas. 


time great soldiers and great civilian ministers. More often a 
Marlborough fights under the direction of a Godolphin, and rarely 
does a Chatham find a Wolfe and a Clive to do his bidding. The 
absence of great statesmen was not, however, atoned for by the 
presence of commanding figures in the field. By 28th June the 
new Napoleon had not come, not even perhaps a new Moltke. 
In military circles in Germany before 1914 the high commanders 
were frankly discussed. One heard often the names of Eichhom, 
Einem, and Kluck ; occasionally of Mackensen ; and very espe- 
cially of Falkenhayn, the Prussian Minister of War. In assessing 
German personalities we must rem-ember that the machine was 
far greater than the individual. The praise belonged rather to 
those who had perfected the machine than to those who worked it. 
Hindenburg was for Germany the discovery of the first year of 
war, and by September he had become a popular idol. But it was 
difficult to detect in his handUng of the campaign any transcendent 
mihtary genius. He inspired enthusiasm among his troops, but 
the plans were not his, but those of the machine behind him, 
worked out by his brilliant Chief of Staff, Ludendorff, whose repu- 
tation was still confined to a narrow circle, Hindenburg's sledge- 
hammer blows at different parts of the Russian front were really 
predetermined by the nature of his weapon. For the rest, Germany 
produced a number of highly competent army commanders, of 
whom Mackensen was the most successful. If they could not be said 
to reach the first rank, it would be none the less foolish to under- 
rate their work. To handle the machine might not demand great 
genius, but it required a high degree of expert training and a very 
cool head. 

On the side of the Allies two figures still overtopped all others 
— General Joffre and the Grand Duke Nicholas. They were in a 
sense national dictators, possessing the confidence of their respec- 
tive nations ; and, since their wills could override all other wills, 
in them was focussed the government of France and Russia. They 
were men of a large simpHcity ; and each, in spite of very real 
intellectual limitations, had a gift for disentangling the essential 
from the less essential ; for disregarding side-issues, and seeing 
losses in their true perspective. Above all, they had stout hearts. 
Both generalissimos were fortunate in having brilliant subordinates. 
The army group commanders — Alexeiev and Ivanov, Foch, Castel- 
nau, and Dubail — had certainly no superiors in the German forces. 
The great figure of Foch was still imperfectly revealed to the world ; 
but in failure and disappointment he was learning his trade, and 


preparing himself for the day when he should be called upon to 
control the war. In the British forces, though so far the high com- 
mand had not had occasion to prove itself in major operations with 
armies on the grand scale, the reputations of Sir William Robert- 
son and Sir Douglas Haig had conspicuously increased. One 
British soldier had by midsummer won a unique position. Botha 
was so far the one clear conqueror, and in his difficult campaign 
he had shown not only true political wisdom but a high degree 
of technical military skill. 

But the year which ended on 28th June had revealed a war less 
of the high commands than of subordinate leaders. Trench fight- 
ing and the importance of artillery combined to annul all majoi 
strategy, and put the main burden on the brigadiers, the battalion 
and company commanders, and even on the subalterns. There 
were many chances for individual gallantry, but few and rare were 
the occasions when officers, from subalterns to generals, could earn 
distinction by initiative or special military knowledge. In the 
stalemate in the West war was reduced to very primitive elements, 
and the debacle in the East submerged human skill under a shower 
of shell. Such was the inevitable result of modem scientific war 
in its early phases. But there were compensations, and that very 
science, which depressed the human factor, contrived in its extreme 
developments to make it the more conspicuous. For a sphere 
where courage and brains found full scope we must look to the 
most expert warfare of all — the work of the submarine and air- 
plane. There the possession of one kind of machine took a man 
out of the grip of the Machine, and set him adventuring in a free 
world, as in the old days of war. The doings of Max Horton, 
Holbrook, Boyle, Naismith, and Weddigen under the sea, and 
of Rhodes-Moorhouse, Wameford, and Garros in the air, ranked 
with the most brilliant individual enterprises of earlier campaigns. 


October igi4-July 9, 1915. 

Transcaucasia — The Mesopotamian Campaign — The Capture of Nasiriyeh and Kut 
— The Cameroons — The War in German South-West Africa— The Surrender 
of the Enemy. 

The outland campaigns during the spring and summer of 19 15, 
with the exception of the Galhpoh expedition, were almost uni- 
formly successful, but their success had as yet no bearing upon the 
main battlefield. In one, the German South-West African, victory 
was complete ; in another, the Mesopotamian, the hard-won tri- 
umph of a small army was beginning to divert the minds of the 
British and Indian Governments from the duties of sound strategy. 
But this was for the future, and the chief interest of those extra- 
European wars lay in the proof of how closely knit was the modem 
world, and how the greater political problems had annihilated 
space and surmounted those barriers which nature had set up to 
demarcate peoples. While some of the Allies fought in the frozen 
bogs of Masurenland or among the deep snows of the Caucasus, 
others were engaged in scorching deserts or fever-haunted swamps. 
Britons in the Flanders trenches found their chief enemy in rain 
and floods ; Britons in South-West Africa valued water more 
highly than gold. There was no extreme of cold and heat that on 
the same day was not endured by some part of the Allied forces. 
The campaign embraced all cUmates, landscapes, privations, pests, 
and terrors. 

Let us look first at the Asian theatre. In Transcaucasia there 
is little to recount. The defeat at Sarikamish had broken utterly 
the cohesion of the Turkish army, and the Russian troops were 
engaged during the subsequent weeks in driving the remnants 



across the frontier. The chief sweeping movement was down the 
Choruk valley, whither, it will be remembered, the ist Turkish 
Corps had retired after the disaster at Ardahan. One Russian 
column moved from Ardahan through the passes, while another, 
supported by vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, operated along the 
coast from Batum. By the end of March the whole frontier region 
was empty of the enemy. Farther south from Sarikamish there 
were a number of insignificant conflicts. Turkish stragglers united 
with the local professionals to form banditti, and this necessitated 
the kind of campaign famihar on our Indian frontier. Villages, 
the strongholds of the enemy, had to be cleared, and the brigands 
driven to the snowy hills. In all this there was no serious Turkish 
defensive, and presently the Turkish and Persian borders were as 
quiet as they were ever likely to be in a world-wide upheaval. 
The Russian commander made no attempt to advance to Erzerum, 
for Russia's object was merely to hold the gate. The vital blow at 
Turkey must come from another quarter. 

In the Persian Gulf area the British force was at the beginning 
of the year securely entrenched on both sides of the Tigris at Kurna 
and Mezera, a strong position commanding the highway to the sea. 
The situation, however, was not without its anxieties. In spite of 
Turkey's rebuffs in Transcaucasia and her diversions towards the 
Suez Canal, she had sufficient troops left in the Bagdad command 
to outnumber gravely the small British army of one division on the 
Shatt-el-Arab. Early in January 1915 it was discovered that the 
Turks were occupying a strong position on the banks of a canal some 
eight miles north of Mezera, and on 20th January a reconnaissance 
was organized to ascertain their strength and dispositions. Sup- 
ported by gunboats from the Tigris we shelled their camp, and 
drove them back with considerable casualties. In February a 
further brigade arrived from India. The enemy next appeared 
near Ahwaz, on the Karun River, the scene of an engagement 
between Sir James Outram and the Persians during the short war 
of 1857. There we had placed a small garrison to protect the pipe 
line of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. West of Ahwaz a Turkish 
force of three regiments and a number of Arab tribesmen were re- 
ported, and on 3rd March we made an attempt to reconnoitre 
this position. The enemy was discovered in strength, the small 
British expedition was in imminent danger of being cut off, and 
retirement was not effected without heavy fighting. The sight of 
the red and white flags of the Arabs, whom we had hoped for as 
allies in breaking the Turkish rule, was disquieting, and it presently 


appeared that the enemy was clustering in strength round our 
whole area of occupation. On the day following the operations 
near Ahwaz, our cavalry, reconnoitring towards Nakaila, twenty- 
five miles north-west of Basra, had a sharp encounter with mounted 
Turks. Another brigade was demanded from India, and presently 
a second division — the 12th — was constituted in the Mesopotamian 

A word must be said at this point on the Indian military system. 
For some years before the war there had been in India a strong 
movement towards economy, and one result had been a reduction 
of the mihtary establishments. The number of divisions available 
for immediate mobilization was reduced from nine to seven, the 
number of field guns to the division was cut down, and of heavy 
pieces there were none. This economy was felt nowhere more 
strongly than in the medical estabUshments ; their standard had 
always been below that of the British army, and now even that 
modest standard was suffered to decline. No provision had been 
made for India's co-operation with the Home Government in the 
event of war. Sir Douglas Haig, when Chief of the Indian Staff 
in 191 1, had endeavoured to remedy this, and prepared a memor- 
andum to deal with such a contingency, but he could not obtain 
the approval of the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge. On the outbreak of 
hostihties India was therefore unready, and a series of peremptory 
requests from Britain for immediate help — in France, Egypt, East 
Africa, Mesopotamia — had to be met out of depleted resources 
and by means of a most imperfect organization. Moreover, there 
was a perpetual difficulty as to which was the governing authority, 
whether the British War Office or the Indian Commander-in-Chief, 
London or Simla, the British Cabinet or the Indian Viceroy. In 
such circumstances it was not easy to equip expeditionary forces 
at all, it was inevitable that the subsidiary services should be 
faulty, and it was not improbable that owing to the overlapping 
authorities the place of the operations in the main strategy of the 
war would be imperfectly considered. 

On 9th April Lieutenant-General Sir John Nixon arrived at 
Basra and took command of the Mesopotamian corps, which con- 
tained the 6th Division, under General Townshend, and the 12th 
Division, under General Gorringe. In Nixon's instructions from 
the Indian Commander-in-Chief was one significant sentence. He 
was asked to submit plans for " effective occupation of the Basra 
vilayet," and for " a subsequent advance on Bagdad." Now the 
policy of Britain in Mesopotamia had hitherto been purely defen- 


sive, and marked by almost excessive caution. The occupation of 
the Basra vilayet, which extended to within a few miles of Kut 
and included both Nasiriyeh and Amara, might have been justified 
as a necessary precaution for the defence of Basra, the delta, and 
the pipe line ; but an advance to Bagdad involved a bold offensive 
and a wholly different strategic plan. Yet here we had the Indian 
Government, which was directly responsible for the supply and 
organization of the troops, already turning its eyes to ambitious 

Nixon's arrival S3mchronized with a comprehensive Turkish 
attack. Three places — Kurna, Ahwaz, and Shaiba, a few miles 
west of Basra — were selected for the assault. On nth and 12th 
April Kurna was bombarded at long range, but beyond the de- 
struction by a floating mine of one of the Tigris bridges, no damage 
was done, and the attack was not pressed home. The bombard- 
ment of Ahwaz was no more effective, and nothing was seen of 
the enemy but clouds of horsemen. Kurna and Ahwaz were only 
feints, and the real blow was directed against Shaiba and the pos- 
session of Basra. The action began on 12th April, and lasted for 
three days, and the invading forces were mainly regulars of the 
Bagdad Corps. The British position around Basra was protected 
on the east by the river, so the Turkish assault was directed from 
north, west, and south. Early in the morning, under cover of a 
heavy artillery preparation, the Turkish infantry advanced from 
three sides, and when their gun fire slackened, set to work to dig 
themselves in. The attack was resumed in the afternoon from the 
south, where we succeeded in beating it back. During the night 
there was a steady fire from rifles and machine guns, and in the 
morning we found the Turks in possession of some houses and 
rising ground to the north of us, from which it was imperative that 
we should oust them. Our advance was completely successful, 
and a simultaneous counter-attack by the Turks from the west 
was easily repulsed, with the loss of several hundred prisoners. 

That afternoon a new concentration of Turkish troops was 
observed to the south, where a strong position had been entrenched 
at Barjisiyah, some four miles from the British lines. On the 
morning of 14th April we moved in force against these entrench- 
ments, which contained the bulk of the enemy army. We carried 
their advanced position, and in the afternoon swept them from their 
main trenches in spite of a heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. A final 
charge with the bayonet put the whole force to flight. As usually 
happened, the routed Turks were set upon by their former Arab 


allies, who completed what the British had begun. This victor^' 
meant the end of a serious Turkish offensive for the moment. The 
Turkish general fell back to Nakaila, but he could not stay there, 
and we occupied the place on the 17th. By the 20th the enemy 
was more than a hundred miles from Basra. On the river twelve 
of his boats were either captured or sunk. April is the season of 
floods in Mesopotamia, and our pursuit was much impeded by the 
swollen waters. The reconnoitring parties whom we dispatched 
found no sign of the enemy in all the countryside except abandoned 
positions and derelict stores. 

During May Gorringe was sent to Ahwaz and the Karun 
river to shepherd the Turkish forces there towards Bisaitun, while 
Townshend was to proceed north of the river to Amara, the seat 
of the provincial Turkish administration, in the hope that he would 
reach the place before the Turks retiring in front of Gorringe, and 
so cut off their retreat. The joint operation was carried out with 
complete success. Of orthodox water transport there was little, 
but every kind of craft was brought into requisition, gunboats 
were improvised, and on 3rd June Amara yielded to an advance 
party of twenty-two soldiers and sailors. Two days later the 
Turkish division which Gorringe was driving before him arrived, 
its vanguard was captured, and the rest dispersed in a flight to 
the north. 

Basra is seventy miles from the sea, Kuma fifty miles from Basra, 
and Amara ninety miles up the Tigris from Kuma. To secure the 
vilayet, Nixon resolved that he must reach Kut, 150 miles up river 
from Amara. There was risk in the attempt, for at each step he 
was dragging a lengthening chain of communications, the medical 
equipment was scarcely adequate for a single division, and there 
was no hope of receiving the additional transport asked for before 
the middle of the following year. The difficulties of the land were 
very great. The floods, which began in February, created huge 
lagoons on both sides of the river, and as these shrank there remained 
isolated meres and large areas of swamp. Old irrigation canals, 
often deep and wide, ran out from the river, and complicated the 
problem of transport. The power of the sun in the summer months 
was not the least of our trials. At dawn it might be 110° F., and 
in the afternoon well over 120°, and the baked sands retained the 
heat so that night brought little coolness. Shade there was none. 
A blinding glare was reflected from yellow earth and blue water. 
But Nixon possessed for the operations men who had served an 
apprenticeship to the Indian heats, and he considered that the 


advance to Kut was within his power, as it was certainly within 
his instructions. The possession of Amara, whence ran the direct 
road to Ahwaz, secured his right flank and the pipe hne. The 
possession of Kut would give him a natural halting-place, and also 
safeguard his left wing, for from the Tigris at that point ran the 
vShatt-el-Hai to the Euphrates at Nasiriyeh, which gave a chance 
for an attack on the British left rear. 

The first step must be the occupation of Nasiriyeh, and thither 
early in July Gorringe marched with the 12th Division from Kuma. 
All the country between the two rivers was flood and marsh, through 
which ran many old channels, and the expedition forced its way to 
the Euphrates by way of the Hamar Lake. That amphibious 
journey, now wading, now embarked in boats, now making portages 
—through a maze of creeks and lagoons and thick date groves under 
a pitiless sky and amid swarms of flies — must rank as one of the 
most uncomfortable ever undertaken by British troops. We found 
the entrance to the main stream of the Euphrates mined and barri- 
caded, but we succeeded in dislodging the enemy from the river 
bank and forcing him back upon Nasiriyeh. On 24th July we 
drove in the main Turkish position in front of that town. The 
Turks were astride the river, and had prepared strong entrench- 
ments defended with barbed wire. By eleven o'clock they were 
broken, and our gunboats pushed on and shelled Nasiriyeh, while 
the main enemy force retreated twenty-five miles in the direction 
of Kut. Next morning we occupied the town, which as the old 
capital of the Mustafik tribe of Arabs had a political importance 
in addition to its strategical situation. The vital junction of the 
Shatt-el-Hai and the Euphrates was in our hands. 

Kut remained, and early in August Nixon gave orders for an 
advance by Townshend's 6th Division up the Tigris. Along that 
river of endless twists and turnings the progress of troops must be 
slow. Riverine marshes had to be crossed or circumvented, and 
canals had to be bridged. The enemy offered no serious oppo- 
sition. He was content to wait for us some seven miles down- 
stream from Kut, on a front extending on both sides of the Tigris 
for a distance of about six miles. His troops were nearly 10,000 
men, regulars of the Bagdad Corps, and he had the usual motley 
following of mounted Arab tribesmen, whose conduct depended 
upon which way the battle went. On 14th September Townshend 
reached Sheikh Saad, and on the 15th he had forced the strong 
Turkish position at Abu Rumanneh. On the 28th he was in action 
with the main enemy force at Kut. The Turkish left, cleverly 

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i'1- . 


1915] CAPTURE OF KUT. 179 

posted between two marshes, was turned by an enveloping move- 
ment, and their centre at the same time was broken by a frontal 
attack. At dawn on the 29th the sun rising through the haze of 
the riverside revealed an empty battlefield. The enemy had retired 
by road and river towards Bagdad. Our cavalry were loosed, and 
entered Kut, a native town of some 6,000 inhabitants, with a 
large trade in grain and liquorice. They pushed on over the solid 
plain, for between Kut and Bagdad the marshes cease, while our 
gunboats led the pursuit upstream, followed by Townshend with 
an infantry brigade in steamers. One of our airplanes succeeded 
in dropping bombs on the rearguard of the Turkish flotilla. The 
pursuit continued for fifty miles as far as Aziziyeh. The result of 
the day was very large captures of prisoners, two thousand and 
more, representing nearly a quarter of the Turkish command. 

The taking of Kut marked the limit of a defensive campaign in 
Mesopotamia. The labours of the arduous summer months had 
been amply successful. " I do not think," said Mr. Asquith in 
the following November, " that in the whole course of the war 
there has been a series of operations more carefully contrived, 
more brilliantly conducted, and with a better prospect of final 
success." The tribute was deserved, but it was not wholly accurate. 
The campaign had not been carefully contrived ; it had been a 
magnificent gamble against odds, and audacity had won. Now 
its purpose had been achieved, the whole Basra vilayet was ours, 
and every reason of prudence was in favour of calling a halt. But 
it is one of the penalties of a dashing success that it awakens a 
rash spirit in its promoters, and the defensive was presently to 
sHp into the ofiensive. Memories of the reconquest of the Sudan 
began to recur to men in authority. There there had been the same 
advance simultaneously by land and water, the same strip of green 
between deserts on either side, the same desire to put a Hmit to 
the advance, the same eternal shifting of the hmit a httle farther 
on. The Sudan wars did not stop till Khartum fell, and it looked 
as if the Mesopotamia campaign must lead sooner or later to an 
assault on Bagdad. For through that city ran the channel of 
German communications with the Indian frontier. Its possession, 
too, by the Turks meant that the ancient capital and one of the 
most sacred cities of Islam was under Germany's influence. More 
than Constantinople it cast its spell over the Moslem world. The 
golden minarets of the great Shiah tombs, which catch from far 
off on the plain the traveller's eye, had a compelling sanctity 
greater than St, Sophia, Moreover, of all the Turkish possessions 


it was knit least closely to the centre on the Bosphorus. Till the 
coming of Midhat Pasha the Bagdad vilayet had been almost 
independent. The inhabitants looked on the speech and faith 
and learning of Stamboul as bastard, and preserved a vigorous 
provinciahsm. For the orthodox Turk, whether soldier or civilian, 
to be sent to Bagdad was to be sent into exile. Of all Turkey's 
provinces it seemed that Mesopotamia was the most easily de- 
tachable. Should the general situation clamour for some dramatic 
or romantic success the lure of Bagdad might prove too strong 
for British discretion. 

The African theatre of war during the first half of 1915 had 
little of interest except in the extreme south-west, where Botha 
was slowly and patiently forcing his way to the German capital. 
In Egypt, after the fiasco of the Canal attack in February, there 
were only affairs of outposts, till on 22nd March another attempt 
was made to reach the Canal. An enemy force, mainly infantry 
with guns, but including a few cavalry squadrons, was located 
near El Kubri, in the neighbourhood of Suez. Shots were ex- 
changed, and the Turks retired to a point eight miles from the 
Canal. Next day the British, under Lieutenant-General Sir 
George Younghusband, fell upon their camp and drove them 
seventy miles inside the desert. These, however, were minor 
incidents : it was clear that the Turkish army destined for the 
invasion of the Canal was thoroughly impotent and disheartened ; 
and Egypt was used as a base for our Dardanelles operations 
without any anxiety as to its eastern frontiers. 

In October 1914 we left the Germans in the Cameroons reduced 
to defensive warfare in a difficult hinterland. The Allies were not 
slow to push their advantage. Presently two columns of the Anglo- 
French force, under Brigadier-General Dobell, were moving along 
the two Hues of railway which run from Duala to the interior. 
Edea, a point on the railway and the Sanaga River some fifty 
miles from Duala, was the first object of attack, and it was arranged 
that it should be assailed both by parties moving on the railway 
and by parties ascending the river in boats. The march was diffi- 
cult, moving through dense forests and much harassed by snipers ; 
but there was no resistance in the town itself, which was occupied 
on 26th October. The enemy retired to Yaunde, a station far up 
on the interior plateau. Six weeks later the Germans made an 
effort to regain Edea, but were beaten back with a loss of twenty 
Europeans and fifty-four natives. There followed an Allied advance 

1915] THE CAMEROONS. 181 

in three columns against Yaunde, in which we fought two little 
battles on 27th and 28th January 1915, and seized the post of 
Bersona. Colonel Mayer with a French detachment crossed the 
river Kele, and a British column a little farther north took the bridge 
of Ngua. Meanwhile north of Duala, on the other railway line, 
good progress had been made. During December we seized Nkong- 
samba and Bare, the latter a station six miles north of the railhead, 
and this gave us the whole of the northern line. 

In the early spring, therefore, we held both the railways run- 
ning up from the coast, and columns were entering the country 
from north, east, and south, from Nigeria and the Chad territory 
and French Equatoria. The main forces of the enem}' were be- 
lieved to be on the head-waters of the Benue in the high country 
around Ngaundere. But there were other forces, notably one 
which operated near the coast just beyond the railheads of the two 
lines, and there were a number of fortified posts in the southern 
district towards the French Equatorial border. Hence the cam- 
paign resolved itself into several distinct expeditions, directed to 
the " rounding up " of the various sections of the enemy. The 
railways had to be closely watched, for on them depended the exist- 
ence of our central army. The rainy season soon began, and the 
dripping savannahs and the dank forests were as formidable a 
barrier as German machine guns. In May the main Allied force 
under General Dobell was operating along the two railway lines. 
A French column under Colonel Mayer, starting from Edea, cap- 
tured Eseka on nth May, after some difficult forest fighting, 
where the Germans showed great skill in entrenching themselves 
at the river crossings. A fortnight later, on 29th May, the same 
column had transferred itself to the northern railway, and driven 
the enemy from Njok to the north-west of that line. Late in the 
same month the southern columns fought actions at Monso and 
Besam, and on 25th June occupied the important post of Lome. 
The French had now taken practically all the country in the south 
up to their old boundary. The torrential rains of July impeded 
further movements on this side, and the centre of interest shifted 
to the higher country towards the Nigerian border. 

The first British incursions from Nigeria had been unhappily 
fated, our men with considerable losses having been driven from 
Garua and Nsanakong. In April the post of Gurin inside the 
Nigerian border was attacked by German troops from the Garua 
garrison, but the little fort held out for seven hours, and finally 
beat off the enemy. Next day the Yola column arrived at Gurin, 


having marched sixty-two miles in twenty- two hours. This col- 
umn, under Colonel F. H. G. Cunliffe, composed of men of the 
West African Frontier Force, marched upon Garua, and prepared 
to reduce the position. It was assisted by a French column which 
had moved westward from the north-eastern border. On nth 
June Garua surrendered unconditionally. This cleared the northern 
part of the colony except for one small German post which occupied 
a hill at Mora. The Alhed columns then swept south, and on 29th 
June occupied Ngaundere, the most important German station in 
the central Cameroons. The enemy retreated south-west towards 
Tibati, while the AUies followed, and on nth June consolidated 
their position by taking the post of Tingr, 3,700 feet up on the 
plateau, and some seventy miles south-west of Ngaundere. The 
German forces had now been penned into the comparatively small 
area of hilly country between Tibati and the head-waters of the 
Sanaga River. On all four sides the AUied columns were closing 
in upon them. 

In East Africa, the failure in November at Tanga was repeated 
in January 1915 at Jassin, a small advanced post which was held 
inside German territory north of the former town. On i8th January 
the place was attacked by a strong enemy force, and next day the 
little garrison surrendered. This disaster compelled a withdrawal 
of our outlying posts in that region, and the Germans were justified 
in claiming that their East African territory was completely free 
from the enemy, while they occupied several posts inside the British 
borders. On 26th February we announced that from midnight on 
the 28th the 300 miles of the coast of German East Africa would 
be blockaded, four days being allowed for the departure of neutral 
vessels. In April Major-General M. J. Tighe, of the Indian Army, 
was appointed to the command of the British East African forces. 
The summer campaign was mainly concerned with small expedi- 
tions on the shores of Victoria Nyanza and on the borders of 
Nyassaland and North-Eastern Rhodesia. But the early days of 
July saw the end of the German cruiser, the Konigsberg. Ever 
since the close of October she had been sheltering some distance up 
the Rufiji River, in a place too shallow for the ordinary ship to 
approach. When we discovered her we sank a coUier at the mouth 
of the river, and so prevented her escape to open sea. Early in 
June Vice-Admiral King Hall, Commander-in-Chief of the Cape 
station, brought out two river monitors, the Severn and the Mersey. 
Our aircraft located the exact position of the Konigsberg, which 
was surrounded by dense jungle and forest. On the morning of 

1915] BOTHA'S STRATEGY. 183 

6th July the monitors entered the river and opened fire. The 
crew of the Konigsberg had made their position a strong one by 
means of shore batteries which commanded the windings of the 
river, and look-out towers with wireless apparatus, which gave 
them the range of any vessel attacking. Owing to the thick jungle 
a direct sight of the enemy was impossible, and we had to work 
by indirect fire with airplanes spotting for the guns. The attack 
was resumed on nth July, when the vessel was completely de- 
stroyed, largely as a result of the brilliant work of our airmen. 
The fate of this German cruiser, marooned for months far from the 
fresh seas among rotting swamps and jungles, is surely one of the 
strangest in the history of naval war. 

When Botha declared war against German South-West Africa 
it was generally believed that his campaign would not be concluded 
before the great struggle in Europe had reached a decision. The 
strength of the Germans, and their ample provision of artillery, 
the immense distances to be covered, and the difficulties of attain- 
ing a decisive result in a country so strongly fortified by nature, 
incHned most men to the belief that the war would soon resolve 
itself into a stalemate and a siege. Such a view underrated the 
energy and the skill of the South African generals. So soon as 
the rebellion within Union territories had been finally crushed, 
Botha set himself to carry out an admirable strategical plan against 
the German defence. But, first, the last embers of the rebellion 
had to be extinguished. Moving along the Orange River, a body 
under Maritz and Kemp gained two small successes, surprising two 
posts held by the 8th Mounted Rifles. The arrival of reinforce- 
ments obliged them to abandon their prisoners and hastily retire. 
On January 12, 1915, Raman's Drift was retaken by Colonel 
Bouwer, which gave the Union force the entire line of the Orange, 
and penned the hostile remnants into the angle formed by the 
river and the German frontier. On 24th January the rebels, 
dispirited and hsJf starving, made their last sally. Led by Maritz 
and Kemp, and about 1,200 strong, they attacked Van Deventer 
at Upington, but they were easily repulsed. Next day the end 
came. The leaders offered to surrender unconditionally. On 3rd 
February Kemp and his commando — 43 officers and 486 men, 
including the prophet Van Rensburg — surrendered at Upington, 
and some of Maritz's band followed suit at Kakamas. Maritz 
himself was not among them. Knowing that for him there would 
be no mercy, he fled back to German territory. 


The position in January, when the main campaign against 
South-West Africa began, was as follows : We held Walfisch Bay 
and its surroundings, and on 14th January we seized without 
trouble the adjoining German port of Swakopmund, the terminus 
of the line to Windhoek and of the line to Tsumab and Grootfon- 
tein, in the north of the colony. We had held since September 
Luderitz Bay (or Angra Pequena) — the terminus of the southern 
line which ran to Windhoek by Keetmanshoop. Our capture of 
Schuit Drift and Raman's Drift gave us the fords of the Orange. 
We therefore held all the gates of the German colony, and our com- 
mand of the sea made us free to use them. Botha's plan of cam- 
paign was an enveloping movement against Windhoek, and the 
forces at his disposal were divided into two main armies. The 
Northern, under his own command, was to move from Swakopmund 
as a base along the railway to Windhoek. The Southern, under 
General Smuts, was divided into three separate columns. The first, 
under Sir Duncan Mackenzie, was directed to move east along the 
railway from Luderitz Bay. The second, under Van Deventer, was 
to move north along the line running from Warmbad to Keetmans- 
hoop ; while the third, under Colonel Berrange, was to start from 
Kimberley, and, crossing Bechuanaland, invade the colony from the 
east. All three columns were to concentrate at Keetmanshoop, 
whence, under Smuts, they would move northwards to join Botha. 
The plan was skilfully devised, for, if successful, it meant the 
shepherding of the German forces away from modem communica- 
tions into the desert country of the eastern frontier, where the 
waterless sands of the Kalahari barred all escape. 

Let us follow first the doings of the Northern army. During 
January the various bases were well provisioned, and from Swakop- 
mund a railway was laid along the coast to Walfisch Bay, and sea 
walls built to facilitate landing. Botha reached Swakopmund on 
gth February, and on the 22nd his army began to move. At first 
its progress was slow. Two German posts were seized without 
loss, and then nearly a month was spent in reconnoitring the 
enemy's strength and preparing an advanced base. On 19th 
March the business of clearing the railway was taken in hand. 
That evening two mounted brigades left our post of Husab. The 
left column of the second brigade, under Colonel Celliers, had orders 
to cut the railway Une between Jakalswater and Sphinx, and then, 
having hampered the movements of any reinforcements coming 
from Windhoek, to attack Jakalswater itself. The right column, 
uMer Colonel Alberts, was to seize Pforte, another station on the 


line. The first brigade, commanded by Colonel Brits, and accom- 
panied by Botha himself, was to attack Riet, an important point 
south of the railway, while the Bloemhof commando, operating 
on its flank, was directed to seize the hill of Schwarze Kopje. The 
attack was timed for dawn on the 20th. Celliers, having cut the 
line and captured a train laden with supplies, moved against the 
German position at Jakalswater. There, however, he found the 
enemy strongly entrenched, and his attack failed in its main object, 
though it prevented assistance being sent to Pforte. At the latter 
place Alberts was wholly successful, and that afternoon received 
the surrender of the garrison — 210 men and four guns. The main 
objective of the movement, however, was Riet, where the German 
position was very strong. Its right rested on the Swakop stream, 
its left on the foothills of the Langer Heinrichberg, while its guns, 
skilfully placed, commanded the main road and the river. In 
our attack the gunners of the Transvaal Horse Artillery did admir- 
able work, and so stoutly was it pressed that by the evening the 
enemy was driven out in disorder. The completeness of our 
success was marred only by the failure of the Bloemhof com- 
mando to reach its allotted place on the Schwarze Kopje, which 
would have enabled us to cut off the enemy's retreat. During 
April the advance proceeded steadily. Colonel Skinner with the 
Kimberley regiment protected the railway behind us, and our 
control of the Tsumab line as far as Trek-kopje prevented any 
serious operations against our left flank and rear. In the first 
days of May Botha with the main army was at Kubas, and on 
the 5th, after a march of thirty-five miles, the junction of Karibib 
was reached and occupied. Another twenty miles took the army 
to Johann Albrechtshohe, and a further ten to Wilhelmsthal. South 
of the railway ran the main road between Windhoek and the 
coast, and along this, too, our troops advanced. By this time all 
serious resistance was over for the Northern army. 

We turn now to the doings of General Smuts's army in the 
south. The heaviest task fell to Van Deventer, moving north from 
the Orange. He came into touch with the enemy at Nakob, 
and early in March he occupied Ukamas and other posts in that 
region. Ten miles north of Ukamas he seized the German camp 
at Nabas, with large quantities of stores, and thirty miles on occu- 
pied Platbeen. On 3rd April his left wing occupied the railway 
terminus of Warmbad, and in the following week he penetrated 
nearly a hundred miles north of it. On nth April Smuts met Van 
Deventer at Kalkfontein, and arranged to drive the enemy out 


of the Karas Mountains, which gave them an awkward position 
on the flanks of our advance. The movement was made in three 
columns and was completely successful, the mountains were cleared, 
and on 17th April Van Deventer entered Seeheim, the junction of 
the lines from Warmbad and from Luderitz Bay. The Germans 
abandoned the place in such haste that they had no time to destroy 
the bridge across the Great Fish River. Colonel Berrange's column, 
which entered the colony from the east, had by 19th March reached 
the borders, and was in the neighbourhood of Rietfontein.* On 
ist April he captured an entrenched position at Hasuur, fifteen 
miles from the latter town. From there he fought his way west- 
ward, with constant skirmishes, to his appointed meeting-place 
with Van Deventer. The two forces met a little to the east of 
Keetmanshoop, in the third week of April. The combined column 
then advanced on Keetmanshoop, which surrendered without fight- 
ing on 2oth April. The place, which is 170 miles from Warmbad 
and 195 miles from Luderitz Bay, was the business capital of 
German Namaqualand, and its possession was highly advantageous. 
Smuts made it his headquarters, and waited there for Mackenzie's 
force, which was moving inwards from Luderitz Bay. 

Mackenzie had to begin by clearing the immediate neighbour- 
hood of Luderitz Bay. Presently he seized Garub, seventy miles 
up the line, and advanced towards the hills which mark the end of 
the coastal desert. He occupied Aus, twenty miles farther on, 
where the Germans held a strongly fortified pass, from which they 
retired without a blow. At Aus Mackenzie's column was clear 
of the worst desert region. He left the railway, took Bethany, 
and struck north-east in the direction of Gibeon, a station on the 
line between Keetmanshoop and Windhoek. Entering Beersheba 
without opposition, he reached the railway on 24th April at Aritetis, 
a small station seventy miles north of Keetmanshoop and forty 
south of Gibeon. Mackenzie was now co-operating directly with 
the main movement of Smuts from Keetmanshoop, and the re- 
treating Germans were between the two forces. Van Deventer 

* His transport problem was the most difficult of all. From Kimberley to 
Kuruman (140 miles) the transport was by donkeys, and after that by oxen. The 
whole line of communications was about 600 miles, and we may guess at the difiS- 
culties of the 400 odd miles served by oxen only, including one stretch of in miles 
without a drop of water. Ox transport could not, of course, keep up with the columns, 
so the army was fed by a iieet of motor cars operating from the end of the line. At 
times the gap which the cars filled was over 40 miles. The whole affair was a very 
remarkable transport feat. After Berrange joined Van Deventer and Mackenzie, 
the eastern route was closed, and the whole Southern army was then supplied from 
Luderitz Bay. 






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pushing from the south, came into touch with the enemy at Kabus, 
and after an indecisive engagement the Germans succeeded in 
reaching Gibeon, whence, as Mackenzie learned, they proposed to 
reach Windhoek by train. He sent out a small party to cut the 
line north of Gibeon, while the 9th Mounted Brigade went forward 
to engage the enemy. At first the Germans were successful, but 
on 28th April our main force came up and inflicted on them a 
serious defeat. We took their two field guns, most of their transport, 
and some 200 prisoners, and released our own men who had fallen 
into their hands. We pursued them for twenty miles, and only the 
rocky and difficult country prevented their complete annihilation. 

The circle of steel was now closing in upon Windhoek. By the 
1st of May all the German colony south of Gibeon was in British 
hands, and Botha was threatening the capital from the west. On 
loth May he was informed that Windhoek was prepared to sur- 
render. With a small escort he reached the place, where he was met 
by the burgomaster, and terms of capitulation were arranged, and 
on the 12th at noon his army entered the town. In it were 3,000 
Europeans and 12,000 natives. The German troops had with- 
drawn to Grootfontein, in the north-east of the colony, which, it 
was declared, was now the capital. The wireless station was found 
intact, and with its capture Germany had lost all her stations 
outside Europe. After the entry of the troops under General 
Myburgh, a proclamation by Botha was read in Dutch, English, 
and German, which placed the conquered territories under martial 
law, and drew attention to the futihty of further resistance. 

The German forces at Grootfontein had a position in which they 
could not hope to stand, and from which there was no obvious 
retreat. The war had now resolved itself into a " rounding-up " 
expedition, and some of the Union forces could be dispensed with. 
Accordingly, in May, Smuts sent home a considerable part of his 
southern command. A few small actions were fought to the 
east of the capital by Colonel Mentz and General Manie Botha, 
when a considerable number of prisoners were taken, with few 
British casualties. Early in June the advance began up the 
northern line. The station of Omaruni was occupied, eighty 
miles from Windhoek, and a few days later Botha was at Kalkfeld. 
The first objective was the junction of Otavifontein, where the 
northern railway forks, one branch going north to Tsumab and the 
other north-east to Grootfontein. Against this position the Union 
forces advanced in three columns. To the left went General Manie 
Botha with the Mounted Free State Brigade. To the right General 


Lukin marched with the 6th Mounted Brigade, composed of the 
South African Mounted Rifles. In the centre, along the railway 
line, moved Botha and the Headquarters Staff. Otavifontein was 
taken on the morning of 2nd July, with few British casualties. The 
chief part was played by General Manie Botha, who in sixteen hours 
marched forty-two miles without a halt through the most difficult 
bush country. Lukin's flanking column covered forty-eight miles 
in twenty hours under the same conditions. 

The fight at Otavifontein was the last serious German stand. 
The Union forces now moved towards Tsumab, Colonel Myburgh 
on the right advancing between the two railway lines, and General 
Brits making a big westerly detour towards the great Etosha Pan. 
Brits's aim was to prevent the enemy retreating over the 
Angola borders. His detour involved a march of 200 miles, and 
it effected its purpose. Meanwhile Myburgh's force, which was 
the operative part, moved laboriously over the sandy Waterberg 
plateau, where the mid-winter cold was bitter, and on 4th July 
came into contact with a force of 500 Germans, about sixteen 
miles south of Tsumab. The Germans made only a slight resist- 
ance, and left many prisoners in our hands. The end was now 
in sight. Dr. Seitz, the German Governor, opened communica- 
tions with Botha. At two o'clock on the morning of gth July 
an unconditional surrender was agreed to. Botha could afford 
to be generous, for his conquest was complete. The numbers 
surrendering were officially reported as 204 officers and 3,293 
of other ranks, while 37 field guns and 22 machine guns were 
captured. About 1,500 Germans were already prisoners in our 
hands. Three hundred thousand square miles of territory had 
been conquered at a less cost than that of a minor action in the 
European theatre. British and Dutch had fought side by side 
with equal valour. The Boer commandos, with no particular uni- 
forms and the loosest formation, showed all their old skill in desert 
campaigning. General Smuts' s words were justified : " Not only 
is this success a notable military achievement, and a remarkable 
triumph over very great physical cHmatic and geographical diffi- 
culties. It is more than that, in that it marks in a manner which 
history will record for all time the first achievement of the united 
South African nation, in which both races have combined all their 
best and most virile characteristics, and have lent themselves 
resolutely, often at the cost of much personal sacrifice, to 
overcome extraordinary difficulties and dangers in order to attain 
an important national object." 



June 22- August $, 1915- 

Germany exploits her Success — The Crushing of the Warsaw Salient — The Advance 
of Mackensen and Linsingen — The Advance of Gallwitz — Comparison with 
Napoleon's Invasion — Prince Leopold enters Warsaw. 

On the ist day of July, when Lemberg had fallen, the Emperor met 
Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Falkenhayn at Posen. The scene of 
the meeting was the new and staring royal castle, built in the heavy 
modem German style that aped the Roman, which frowns over 
the sluggish Warta and the ancient Polish city. The plans dis- 
cussed were as grandiose as the environment. We can picture the 
Emperor, his spirits high at Mackensen's success, and his fancy 
inflamed with dreams of an entry into Warsaw as conqueror and 
deliverer, declaring that the moment had come for that annihilating 
blow which would establish for ever the dominance of German arms. 
The conditions were, indeed, fortunate for an army that possessed 
so mighty an engine of artillery and prided itself on its desperate 
impulse in attack. The weakness of the whole Russian position 
in Poland had now revealed itself. It was a salient, and a pre- 
carious salient. It depended upon the integrity of the two long 
railway lines which connected Warsaw with Petrograd, Moscow, 
and Kiev. In front of each of these lines lay the enemy — from 
Mlawa to ShavH in the north, from Sandomirz to the Dniester in 
the south. At the apex stood Warsaw, the capital of Russian 
Poland, and the key of the Vistula. The German armies were 
already pressing northward against the southern line. It was now 
Hindenburg's business to balance this movement by a descent from 
East Prussia upon the northern sector. Mathematical calculations 
would again be vindicated. What had happened on the Donajetz, 
the Wisloka, and the San would happen on the Narev, the Niemen, 



and the Bug. Once the railways were cut Warsaw would fall, the 
troops in the point of the salient would be isolated, and it would 
be strange if they could extricate themselves from such a trap. 

But Hindenburg and Ludendorff aimed at more than the con- 
quest of a capital or a river line or the occupation of a few more 
thousand square miles of Polish ground. Their business was to 
shatter the Russian armies. To this end they fell back upon the 
favourite German enveloping strategy. The army of the Niemen 
had overrun Courland as far as the Windawa, and was within 
measurable distance of Riga. If this force struck strongly it 
might hack its way south, master Kovno and Vilna, and cut the 
Petrograd line far to the eastward. Then the Russians in the salient 
would be taken both in flank and rear. Squeezed between the 
enemy on north and south, the Bug would be no halting-place, nor 
would any stand be possible in the Pripet marshes. A greater 
Sedan would follow, and the remnants that escaped to the line of 
the Beresina would be but a fraction of the force which in April 
had looked for a triumphant summer. The scheme was not over- 
confident. Germany had behind her all the advantages of speedy 
transport. Her shell supplies were still enormous, she had lost 
few guns, and the gaps in her ranks had been filled up from the 
reserves. Reinforcements were necessary for the great movement, 
and they could be got by drafts from the still stagnant Western 
front. The Austro-Hungarian armies were, indeed, fatigued and 
demoralized, but the operative part of the new plan would be 
Germany's, and her victorious troops were still far from the limit 
of their strength. The forces which faced Russia after Lemberg 
were more formidable than those which had begun the advance in 
the early days of May. 

This plan was undoubtedly a sound one, and was the only 
means by which that decisive military victory could be won for 
which Ludendorff longed. So far Germany had done brilliantly, 
but she had not shattered Russia's strength in the field. To cut 
off the Polish salient and master Warsaw would not bring about 
that result. But to bite in far behind from the northern flank, 
where alone there was freedom of movement, would prevent a repeti- 
tion of the Galician retreat, and compel a wholesale surrender not 
of territory but of armies. Had Russia been the only enemy, Hinden- 
burg and Ludendorff would beyond cavil have been right. But 
Falkenhayn differed, and he won his way. He believed that in a 
month or two the Western front would flare up into fierce life ; 
therefore he dared not borrow too much from it, and soon, he anti- 


cipated, he would be forced to lend. To strike at once for Kovno 
and Vilna was too ambitious a project for Germany's frugal 
resources, and might well lead to a second Marne. He resolved 
to be content with a limited objective— to bend the armies of the 
south northward and the armies of the north southward, and so 
put an end for good to the Polish salient. 

Certain adjustments were accordingly made in the German 
line of battle. Beginning from the left, the Niemen Army (Otto 
von Below) was to move steadily in Courland against an enemy 
weakened by the transfer of troops to the south ; the X. Army 
(Eichhorn), the VIII. Army (Scholtz), and the new XII. Army (Gall- 
witz) were to press down on the line of the Bobr and the Narev ; 
the IX. Army (Prince Leopold of Bavaria) at the point of the 
salient would make no serious attack, for it would be confronted 
with the outer defences of Warsaw. South of it Woyrsch would 
attempt the crossing of the Vistula. To the right of Woyrsch 
considerable changes were made. The Austro-Hungarian I. Army 
was moved east to the neighbourhood of Sokal, and the order was 
now — Woyrsch : the Austro-Hungarian IV. Army ; the German 
XI. Army ; the new Bug Army (Linsingen), formed out of the XI. ; 
the Austro-Hungarian I., III., and II. Armies; the Southern Army 
(now under Bothmer) ; and the Austro-Hungarian VII. Army 
(Pflanzer-Baltin). The two main striking forces were Gallwitz in 
the north, and Mackensen and Linsingen in the south. 

The Grand Duke Nicholas was aware of the enemy's strategy. 
He read clearly the meaning of the strange activity in the north. 
So far as he could he kept his armies at full strength. Their losses 
in men could be replaced, but rifles and machine guns could not be 
improvised, nor could all the courage and goodwill in the world 
provide in a few weeks an adequate accumulation of shells. The 
immediate danger was the Ivangorod-LubHn-Cholm railway, 
against which moved Mackensen's phalanx. Radko Dmitrieff 
had handed over the Third Army to General Lesch, who had 
formerly had a corps in that command. For the rest the personnel 
was unchanged, save that Russki, now happily recovered, was 
given the Army of Petrograd, which might soon be called upon to 
defend the Russian capital. 

Let us look first at the campaign in the south, where Mackensen, 
with Woyrsch on his left, and Linsingen on his right, faced the 
armies of Evert and Lesch. On 22nd June Lemberg had fallen to 
Boehm-ErmolU. Whilst that army pressed on towards the Hne of 
the upper Bug, and the Southern Army fought for the Dniester 


crossings about Halicz, and Pflanzer-Baltin threatened the line of 
that river eastward to the frontier, the armies of Mackensen moved 
steadily northward. His objective on the left was Krasnik and 
Lubhn, on the right Zamosc, Cholm, and Kovel. The Austrian 
IV. Army had already left the railways behind it, and was moving 
through a country of plains, forests, and bad country roads, a 
country generally flat, but rising near Krasnik to inconspicuous 
uplands. The XI. Army, when it left the railheads north of Rava 
Russka, had the same country before it, but it had to face also 
the considerable marshes around the upper stream of the Wieprz. 
The summer was wet, and the tangled levels, now scorched with 
the hot winds of the Polish plain, now drenched with torrential 
rains, made the movement of the great phalanx slow and painful. 
At first sight it would seem that the easier plan would have been 
to strike at the railway east of Kovel, where it would be nearer 
the GaHcian railheads. But to do that involved getting the 
difficult valley of the Bug between it and the Austrians, and so 
separating the two parts of Mackensen's striking force. At 
first the two armies met with little opposition. Small rearguard 
actions were fought by the Russians at Tomasov, but the main 
forces of Lesch and Evert were thirty miles away. By the end 
of June the Austrians were north of the woods which bound the 
Tanev watershed, and had their centre on the tolerable road, em- 
banked above the reach of floods, which runs by Krasnik to Lublin. 
The XI. Army was approaching the antiquated fortress of Zamosc, 
a place served by no railway, and had before it the main road to 
Cholm by Zamosc and Krasnostav. By 2nd July the Austrians were 
in Krasnik, and Zamosc had fallen without trouble. 

But that evening the situation changed, for Mackensen was 
now in touch with the main Russian defence. Its position was 
about half-way between the Galician railheads and the vital Rus- 
sian lateral railway. At Krasnik the chief road or causeway to 
Lublin starts, and it was the aim of the Russians to prevent the 
Austrians debouching on it. The village stands on a little stream, 
the Wisnitza, which flows west to the Vistula. To the east of it 
the Bistritza rises in some high ground, and runs north by Lublin 
to the Wieprz, having its course just to the east of the highroad. 
At first the Russians succeeded in holding the bank of the Wisnitza 
north of the village, but on Sunday, 4th July, the Austrian right 
managed to turn the Russian front by way of the hamlet of Bychava, 
east of the Bistritza, and the Russians fell back to a position on the 
Lublin road some three miles north of Krasnik. At the same time 


the XI. Army found itself checked about half-way between Zamosc 
and Krasnostav in the angle formed by the Wieprz and its tributary, 
the Wolitza. The position was suitable to the defence, for the front 
of about seven miles was protected from envelopment on its flank 
by the two streams, which flowed in marshy hollows across which 
artillery could not easily move. On 7th July the German advance 
came to a standstill, and resolved itself into an artillery duel. 
Presently the Austrians at Krasnik were engaged in a serious 
action. The battle began on the morning of Monday, the 5th, and 
ended in a considerable defeat on the evening of Friday, the 9th. 
The two enemy armies, aiming at the railway, were separated by the 
valley of the Wieprz, and consequently were unable to co-operate 
in their movements. On the evening of Sunday, the 4th, the 
Austrians lay with their left at Urzedow on the rising ground north 
of the Wisnitza, their centre on the Lublin road, and their right at 
Bychava, on the slopes east of the Bistritza — a front some eighteen 
miles long. On the Monday morning the Russians struck at the 
Austrian centre, drove it in, took the wayside hamlet of Wilkolaz, 
and cleared the enemy's left wing out of Urzedow. The next four 
days of attack and counter-attack led to the retreat of the Austrians, 
an average of two miles on a front of eighteen. The Russians 
carried Bychava village, and the hamlet of Bistritza on the stream 
of that name, and forced the whole enemy line back to the slopes 
just north of Krasnik, with the loss of some thousands of prisoners, 
a very large number of machine guns, and heavy casualties in 
dead and wounded. On the 9th the Austrian IV. Army was in 
this position, with its right centre on the small elevated triangle 
between the two sources of the Bistritza — the place called Hill 218 
in the survey maps. Here it was secure, but its advance had been 
checked, and was to remain checked, as was that of the XL Army 
for a week. The vital Russian railway was safe for the moment. 

Let us look at what had been happening meantime co the 
flanking German armies. Evert, whose opponent was Woyrsch, 
had on 22nd June been astride the Vistula. The advance of the 
Austrian IV. Army compelled him to retire his left, and the rest 
of his line slowly followed suit. By the end of June he was well 
back from Opatov, on the Une Zawichrost-Oeorov-Sienno, and that 
night Zawichrost, on the Vistula, was relinquished. His right fell 
back down the valley of the Kamienna, fighting stubborn rear- 
guard actions on both sides of the stream. Presently the river 
crossing at Josefov — celebrated during the first assault upon Warsaw 
—had gone, and early in July, before the battle of Krasnik, Evert's 


line ran sharply back from Radom. crossed the Vistula below 
the mouth of the Kamienna, and covered the Ivangorod-Lublin 

The right wing of the Austro-German advance was in the nature 
of a flank-guard to protect the main movement of the Archduke 
Joseph and Mackensen. One army was directed towards the 
upper Bug from Kamionka to Sokal, one moved against the Gnila 
Lipa and especially against Halicz, while Pflanzer-Baltin operated 
upon the lower Dniester as far as the frontier. By 24th June 
the Dniester was crossed west of Halicz ; on the 28th Halicz was 
captured, which turned the Russian lines on the Gnila Lipa ; while 
on the same day the Austrian H. Army was approaching Kamionka, 
where the Lemberg-Kiev railway crosses the Bug. For some days 
there was heavy fighting on the Gnila Lipa, as the Russian rear- 
guard held off the pursuit to enable Lechitski to retire in good order. 
On the night of 3rd July the whole Russian front in this sector was 
back on the Zlota Lipa, a tributary of the Dniester, some twenty 
miles to the eastward. Meanwhile Brussilov, farther north, held the 
upper Bug, and frustrated Austrian attempts to cross that river 
at Sokal and Kamionka. By loth July there was a lull in this part 
of the front corresponding to the check of the main attack upon 
Cholm and Lublin. 

The precedent of the Japanese strategy at Mukden may now 
have been in Hindenburg's memory, when Oyama struck not 
simultaneously but successively in different places. If the effect of 
each blow is not lost, if each attacking force retains the positions won 
and engages a portion of the enemy's reserves, then each new blow 
has the effect of a surprise, for the line assailed cannot be easily 
reinforced, and the result is a general and cumulative disorder. 
The Grand Duke Nicholas was not caught unawares, but he was 
compelled to strain his resources to their uttermost to meet the 
danger. A number of minor incidents had shown him the direction 
of the wind. Through the last days of June skirmishes in the Shavli 
area went on. On 6th July Eichhorn's X. Army woke into activity, 
and carried a position west of the road from Suwalki to Kalvaria. 
On 8th July there was fighting at Stegna, north-east of Przasnysz. 
About the same time there was a German movement on the Bzura 
which won some trenches near Goumin, and lost them on 9th July. 
On 12th July there was much activity on the Bobr, and the long- 
suffering fortress of Ossovietz was again bombarded. On 15th 
July there came more ominous news. The Germans in Courland 
were pressing hard on the Windawa and Wenta rivers, the whole 


Niemcn front was engaged, and the Russians were resisting an 
attack in force just south of Przasnysz. Przasnysz had fallen to 
the Germans the day before. It was the first muttering of what 
soon became a tempest. 

The great onslaught involved every army on the front, from the 
Baltic to the Bukovina ; but for the moment the vital attacks were 
against the two lateral railways. Elsewhere we have considered 
the Narev terrain, where in February Hindenburg had fought and 
failed. Its valley, from its junction with the Bobr, runs south- 
west till it joins the Bug at Sierok, fifteen miles from Novo Geor- 
gievsk. It is heavily wooded, marshy in parts, but in several 
places diversified with sand ridges. Thirty or forty miles south 
of it ran the great Warsaw-Petrograd railway, sending off severaJ 
branches to the north which met at Ostrolenka. The main river 
crossings at Sierok, Pultusk, Rozhan, Ostrolenka, and Lomza were 
fortified. The Narev line represented the screen of the Petrograd 
railway. If it could be forced, that railway must soon be mastered 
by the enemy. The attack began on 14th July, when Gallwitz, 
with five corps, moved on both sides of Przasnysz. He had behind 
him the admirable East Prussian railway system, and to serve 
his right flank the line from Mlawa to Novo Georgievsk. On his 
left moved the army of Scholtz, connecting with Eichhom. The 
Russians, falling back from Przasnysz, took up a prepared position 
running from Czechanov to Krasnosielce, in the Orzyc valley. 
Here they were attacked on the 15th, but their rearguards managed 
to hold the line for two days while the main forces fell back towards 
the Narev. In this way the salient was curtailed, and the drawing 
in of the northern side necessitated the withdrawal of the point. 
About the iSth the famous lines of the Rawka and Bzura were re- 
linquished — voluntarily, for there was small pressure there — and 
the Russian force covering Warsaw on the west retired fourteen 
miles to the Blonie lines, some fifteen miles from the city. 

During the next week the Russians fell back, fighting stubbornly, 
on the Narev. By the 20th they were mostly on its southern 
bank, but held all the bridgeheads on the northern shore. The 
river fortressess were coming under the fire of the German heavy 
guns, and their outworks were crumbling. There were sorties 
from Novo Georgievsk, but they had little effect. On the night 
of the 23rd Gallwitz won certain crossings of the Narev. The chief 
was just opposite the mouth of the Orzyc, between Pultusk and 
Rozhan. Farther east a passage was won between Ostrolenka and 
Lomza, where the ground on the south side is free from marshes. 


By Sunday, the 25th, no further ground had been won on the south 
bank, but Gallwitz's right was on the Bug between Sierok and Novo 
Georgievsk. Though he had not yet won the river Hne on a broad 
front, he was within twenty miles of Warsaw and the Petrograd 

Meanwhile the battle had been resumed on the southern sector. 
On 1 6th July the Austrians attacked the Russians on the Krasnik- 
Lublin road, but after many assaults failed to carry the Wilkolaz 
position. The same day the XL Army made a great effort against 
Krasnostav. As we have seen, its centre lay in the angle between 
the Wieprz and the Wolitza, the Russian lines crossing the narrower 
end. During the week it had bridged the marshy streams on its 
flanks, and was able to dispose its artillery on a broad front and use 
its superior numbers for envelopment. It pushed its left across 
the Wieprz towards the village of Pilaskowice, and flung its right 
across the Wolitza, while the centre — where were the heaviest guns 
— forced a passage along the Cholm road. Before such weight of 
men and guns Lesch's force was compelled to give way, and fighting 
desperate rearguard actions with the bayonet, fell back behind 
Krasnostav. On the morning of Sunday, the i8th, Mackensen 
had won that town and the village of Pilaskowice, and was within 
ten miles of the vital railway. 

The skies had darkened for Russia along the whole front. Before 
Warsaw, where the enemy's strength was lowest, the Blonie line 
was still held, but the events to south and north were speedily mak- 
ing it a position of danger. For in those days Woyrsch's army 
began to drive Evert from the whole left bank of the Vistula. The 
advance of Mackensen was bound very shortly to make Ivangorod 
untenable, and the shortening of the Bzura front turned the flank 
of the Radom position. On the 19th Evert's centre was driven 
east of Itza on the Itzanka river, Woyrsch's cavalry were on the 
Radom-Ivangorod railway, and Radom had fallen. Presently 
Sienno fell, and on the 21st Woyrsch's advanced guard seized the 
Vistula bridgehead at Nova Alexandria. On the 22nd the Russian 
right was driven into Ivangorod, which was thus assailed at once 
from south and west. The Russians holding the Austrian IV. 
Army at Wilkolaz now found themselves outflanked by Woyrsch 
on the right and Mackensen on the left, and were compelled to 
fall back nearer Lublin. Far in the north there loomed a peril 
more remote but not less deadly. On the r4th the left of Otto 
von Below's Niemen army had crossed the Windawa near Kurs- 
chany, and was sweeping round Towards Tukkum, the half-way 



^M^^*--- '4HT P^Ofl^ ^'"^ \JU :s\/^ 3HT OT 


house between Windau and Riga, while his centre was in front 
of Shavli, with the great guns of the East Prussian fortresses in 
support. Tukkum and Windau fell on 20th July, and the advance 
on Mitau began, while the centre was now east of Shavli. Farther 
south, on the Dubissa, the Russian line was forced, and Eichhorn's 
left wing advanced on Kovno. The factories and depots at Riga 
began to move their goods and plant to the interior. Otto von 
Below was within twenty miles of Riga, and Eichhorn within sixty 
of Vilna. 

Such was the situation on Saturday, 24th July. It was suffi- 
ciently desperate, for Russia had drawn all the spears to her breast. 
The enemy was close up on the railway salient — fifteen miles from 
the apex, ten miles from the southern side, no more than twenty 
from the northern. The fortified line of the Narev was pierced, 
though not yet wholly broken. In these days the Grand Duke 
Nicholas had been called upon to make one of the most momentous 
decisions in the history of his country. The great Polish triangle 
of fortresses, the base of Russia's frontier defence — Novo Geor- 
gievsk, Ivangorod, Brest Litovsk — was still intact. Should he 
endeavour, with the aid of these works, to hold the triangle, and 
with it Warsaw ? Or should he sacrifice Poland and its capital, 
with all that it held of military and political significance, and fall 
back to the east, as Peter the Great and Kutusov had done before 
him ? The second course was far the harder. To extricate great 
armies from a narrowing salient along three railways, two of which 
might any day become impossible, in the face of an enemy so amply 
equipped, might well seem to demand a miracle for success. It 
meant that his wearied troops must hold for a space of weeks the 
sides of the saUent while the front retired. The easy and fatal 
path would have been to trust the fortresses, and hold out in the 
triangle, in that hope of some sudden gift of fortune with which 
even strong men sometimes flatter their souls. He chose the path 
of difficulty and of sound strategy. Kutusov's view was his ; it 
ivas not land or cities that mattered, but the armies of Russia. He 
trusted his men to perform the impossible. Some day out of the 
East these armies would return, to win back more than they 
had sacrificed. Somewhere, on the line of the Bug, or, if 
necessary, on the Dnieper, a position would be found in which 
to await the preparation of the machine that would redress the 

On 15th July the resolution was taken to abandon Warsaw, 
and with it the rest of Russian Poland. 


There is a tale that Alexeiev, then Chief of Staff to Ivanov, 
differed from his colleagues in the preceding August when the 
Austrian armies crossed the southern border of Poland. They 
saw the weakness of the enemy's position, and were resolved to 
give effect to that strategic plan which in a fortnight gave them the 
victories of Lemberg and Rava Russka. But Alexeiev, it is said, 
took a larger view. He counselled retreat, and still retreat, behind 
the Pripet marshes, away into the heart of the country. Let us 
inflame our opponents by means of easy successes, he said, and 
they will follow blindly, and then, when winter comes, we shall 
not beat them, we shall destroy them. His advice was not taken. 
Had it been, who shall say how the campaign would have evolved ? 
Hypothetics is a bastard science, which should be shunned by the 
historian. But the legend is interesting as revealing in an extreme 
form the deepest instinct of Russian strategy. The determining 
factor had never been Peter or Kutusov, or the Grand Duke Nicholas, 
but General Russia. It was an echo of the policy which gave 
them Poltava and Krasny and the Beresina, and which five hundred 
years before the birth of Christ had baffled the army of Darius. 
" The Scythians," wrote Herodotus, " in regard to one of the 
greatest of human matters, have struck out a plan cleverer than any 
I know. In other respects I do not admire them, but they have 
contrived this great object, that no invader of their country shall 
ever escape out of it or shall ever be able to find out and overtake 
them unless they themselves choose." 

But the precedents of 1709 and 1812 were no accurate guide 
to the happenings of to-day. Let us look more closely into the 
matter, and consider exactly what causes led to Napoleon's failure, 
and whether or not they were still operative. On such an inquiry 
must depend our view of the wisdom of the Grand Duke's strategy. 

The main lines of the 1812 expedition are familiar. By the third 
week of June in that year Napoleon had massed 400,000 men and 
1,000 guns on a front roughly defined by the great bend of the 
Niemen, which has its centre at Kovno. He began the crossing 
of the river on 24th June, and presently the Grande Armee was 
swallowed up in the silence of the northern forests. On the 28th 
he occupied Vilna, and on 23rd July reached Vitebsk. Here, as the 
readers of Segur will remember, he fell into a mood of indecision, 
and paced restlessly up and down the rainy street. He found his 
supply system working badly, and sickness and poor food had done 
much to reduce his forces. Accordingly he told his marshals that 
the campaign of 1812 was over. He proposed to go into canton- 


ments on a line running north and south through Vitebsk, covered 
by Murat's cavalry divisions. During the winter Poland and 
Lithuania would be reorganized, and supplies collected on the 
Vitebsk front, and from this advanced base the operations for the 
campaign of 1813 would begin. The plan was sound, and had it 
been persisted in the course of history would have been different. 
But on 8th August the Russians made a surprise attack on Murat's 
centre. Napoleon counter-attacked, and set the whole Grande 
Armee in motion, believing that his enemy was about to give him 
the chance of lighting a decisive battle. He moved on Smolensk, 
and entered it on 18th August. Once there he was captivated by 
the notion of a dash for Moscow. His hope was that, if he could 
beat the Russians in a great battle and occupy their ancient capital, 
Alexander would be wiHing to make peace, as he had done after 
the disaster of Friedland. Accordingly, Napoleon found himself 
committed to a march on Moscow in the late summer, which 
could only be a desperate race against time. 

The decision sealed his fate. His army began to vanish long 
before he reached the capital. At Borodino he had little more than 
130,000 men in Hne. He entered Moscow with less than 100,000. 
Three-fourths of the Grande Armee had gone. The rest of the 
great tale is tragedy. We know from Segur the strange scene on 
the Sparrow Hills, where Napoleon waited for the capitulation 
of the Russian nobles which never came. Then followed the 
entry into a sepulchre of a city, then the great fire, and then, on 
13th October, the first frost of winter and the beginning of the retreat. 
The country rose behind the invaders, and cold and famine hastened 
like avengers of blood on their trail. Presently the Grande Armee 
was only 40,000 ; soon it was only 24,000. The Beresina was 
reached, where the Emperor fell into a stupor, and murmured 
" Poltava." Eighteen thousand broken men crossed the Niemen, 
where a few months before the Emperor had whistled " Malhrouck 
s'en va-t-en guerre;" and Ney, as the story goes, staggered into 
Dumas' bivouac crying, " Je suis I'arriere-garde de la Grande 
Armee." Malbrouck had gone to the wars and had returned, 
but when he entered Warsaw by sledge he had left his empire 
behind him. 

The debacle of 1812 was due mainly to the impossibility of 
obtaining adequate supplies. It was that rather than the winter 
weather which destroyed the Grande Armee, for it is too often 
forgotten that that army had ceased to be an efficient force before 
it reached Moscow. What was Napoleon's method of supply? 


In the seventeenth century the small armies of the day lived largely 
on the country they occupied. Their system was one of inadequate 
magazines and transport lines, supplemented by a general levying 
of contributions and extensive plunder. The army of Gustavus 
Adolphus fought in alliance with Prussia, but it took Prussia fifty 
years to recover from its exactions. This system proved as inade- 
quate as it was demoralizing. In the eighteenth century, accord- 
ingly, armies were munitioned by the help of contractors, who formed 
magazines at the base and the advanced bases, and brought up 
supplies to the front by horse and water transport. This was the 
regular system, and it was supplemented not by levying contri- 
butions, but by purchasing supplies locally, and paying for them 
out of the travelling military chest. The eighteenth century was 
probably the time when, speaking broadly, armies inflicted the 
least hardships on the districts in which they operated.* The 
French Republican levies broke from the system, and Napoleon 
followed them. The new plan was to make war support itself. They 
levied money contributions on the cities they occupied, and still 
larger contributions in kind. This practice secured far greater free- 
dom and rapidity of movement for moderately large forces operat- 
ing on a broad front. If supplies for men and horses could be found 
on the ground, it was no longer necessary for the units to depend 
on the wagon-trains coming slowly up from the base. But when 
Napoleon began to advance from the Niemen the conditions 
were such that living off the country was impossible. Wood 
and water were the only things that could be furnished locally. 
The district, poor at the best, was swept clear of everything, 
not only because the Russians deliberately destroyed supplies 
but also because, as they retired, they ate up all that was locally 
available. Napoleon had to depend upon the old system of maga- 
zines, which in May and June were collected on the Niemen front. 
But to send forward supplies was a difficult business. The roads 
were atrocious, wagons and horses were constantly breaking down, 
the quantity of transport required was enormous, and grew daily 
as the lines of operations extended. The very life of the Grande 
Armee depended on the continuous double stream of wagons coming 
up loaded from the Niemen front, and returning empty for further 
supplies. The problem proved too great. In that realm of Chaos 
and old Night, where roads were tracks and rain turned the land 

* The fashion was carried sometimes to a farcical excess. In 1806 the Prussiaa 
army, which still followed the eighteenth-century practice, found itself occasionally 
starving in the midst of ripe cornfields, or shivering beside piles of cut timber, 
because the commissaries had not closed the bargain for corn and firewood. 

1915] COMPARISON OF 1812 AND 1915. 201 

into a morass, the whole commissariat went to pieces, and victories 
only meant starvation. 

Clearly the situation in this respect was very different in 1915 
from what it had been in 1812. The German soldiers at Windau 
were eating bread baked and fresh meat packed in Berlin the day 
before. Railways were being built a mile behind the advancing 
forces, thousands of motor wagons were ready to supplement them, 
and, if necessary, an asphalted road fifty miles long could be con- 
structed in two days. The German base on the Niemen would 
not consist of magazines filled up during a few weeks by collecting 
food and forage from Poland and East Prussia. They had behind 
them a railway system which enabled them to draw continuously 
on all the resources of Central Europe. The magazines would 
merely represent the temporary accumulation at the railheads, 
and every day would bring in more. If the Russians destroyed 
local supplies it would matter Uttle. The German armies would 
live on their railways and their motor transport. 

The view was sound, but it was not all the truth. Modem 
science had indeed removed one of the worst of Napoleon's diffi- 
culties. The precedent of 1812 was no basis for a precise fore- 
cast, but certain rock facts remained. Russia was still a country 
of infinite distances. The heart of the land was the people, and 
no capital or province. Human energy is limited, and all the 
railways on earth could not make a campaign in hostile territory 
a hundred miles from the frontiers as easy as one fought just out- 
side them. As the German line of communications lengthened 
out it must grow weaker and more vulnerable, for though the 
relation of distance to time had changed, it still remained a fixed 
proportion ; supplies would still take twice as long to travel four 
hundred miles as to travel two hundred. Moreover, as the Ger- 
man army advanced eastward the front would tend to broaden 
and the hues grow thinner. A space of some hundreds of miles 
proved fatal to Napoleon ; that space might now need to be mul- 
tiplied by ten or twenty, but space, if ample enough, would sooner 
or later dissipate the fiercest energy. 

In two respects the situation was more fortunate for Russia 
than in 1812. Then she was still without the self-consciousness 
of a nation. The Poles and Lithuanians were all on the French 
side. Vilna celebrated Napoleon's birthday ; Minsk greeted the 
troops of Davoust with music and flowers ; at Mogilev there was 
mass in the cathedral for the Emperor's well-being. Even in 
Russia proper the people were confused, for a few yeais before 


their Tsar had been in alliance with the French. They were igno- 
rant of the doings in the West, and were for long puzzled to 
understand the meaning of the invasion. Nor was there any 
fierce hostility felt then or later to Napoleon himself, such as flour- 
ished at the time in Britain. Pushkin's words represented the 
judgment of many classes : "All hail ! He pointed out a great 
destiny to the Russian people, and from the gloom of his banish- 
ment bequeathed to the world lasting freedom ! " The feehng 
of the ordinary Russian was bewilderment and pity rather than 
wrath. When a priest of Smolensk, on his way to a dying par- 
ishioner, met the Emperor tramping moodily in the icy slush, he 
pressed on him the sacrament, because he seemed the greatest 
of human sufferers. But in 19 15 the slow consciousness of Russia 
had partially awakened. She knew the war for a struggle not 
of armies and dynasties, but of peoples and of ideals. CiviUzation 
had laid its hand on her since 18 12. Her great spaces were pierced 
with roads and railways, and comlands lay where had once been 
wood and marsh. The Germans were advancing in an easier 
country, but the century which had improved the face of the land 
had given a new cohesion and force to the human resistance. 

Again, the armed strength of Russia, both absolutely and 
relatively, was far greater than in 18 12. Napoleon, it should be 
remembered, thought first of dividing and breaking the Russian 
armies. The occupation of Moscow was only a secondary matter, 
a quasi-political move forced on him by his inabiHty to get really 
to grips with his foe. " Bagration and Barclay will not see each 
other again," he had said confidently when he crossed the Nie- 
men, believing that he had driven a wedge between the armies 
of the north and of the south. He was wrong, for on 3rd August 
the two armies joined hands at Smolensk, and thereafter their 
cohesion was never broken. But the united Russian forces were 
not formidable ; at Borodino they numbered little over 103,000, 
and on that bloody day they lost some 58,000 killed and wounded, 
including twenty-two generals. They had no commanders of 
genius, certainly no one comparable to Napoleon. The troops 
which the Grand Duke Nicholas led in 1915 yielded to their foe 
in few things but equipment. Once again, as in 18 12, the aim of 
the invader must be the destruction of the armies. If these could 
retreat without grave loss into their infinite hinterland the enter- 
prise of Hindenburg might shipwreck as grievously as Napoleon's. 

With such considerations the Allies in the West comforted 
themselves as they watched the spectacle of the Russian disasters. 


They were reasonable and weighty arguments, but they suffered 
from one doubtful proviso. Germany might fail, but in her failure 
she might bring down the whole edifice of Russian society. Even 
if armies are not broken in front, their sufferings may so react 
upon the people at large that treasons come into being which 
destroy them from behind. The nation was still unwieldy and 
inorganic, and it was not easy to be confident that so imperfect a 
mechanism of government could withstand so fiery a trial. Hope- 
ful signs there were : Guchkov, the Octobrist leader, had been 
made Minister of Munitions ; the Duma seemed to be asserting 
itself as the popular mouthpiece, and the ally of the Third Duma, 
General Polivanov, had become Minister of War. But the uncer- 
tainty remained. Germany might not succeed in her immediate 
purpose of destruction, and yet, bhndly and unwitting!}', might 
sow for Russia the seeds of a more terrible downfall. 

The last days of July in Warsaw saw a strange sight. The 
great factories with their plant migrated eastward. While home- 
less peasants from the neighbouring country thronged into the 
city, the normal inhabitants, to the number of nearly half a mil- 
lion, sought refuge in Russia, travelling by the northern line within 
sound of the guns on the Narev. All goods which could be useful 
to the coming enemy were removed, and what could not be taken 
was burned. The Praga and Alexander bridges were thronged 
with convoys carrying gold from the banks, archives from the 
State departments, and sacred relics and ikons from the churches. 
The crops were destroyed in the surrounding fields, when no man 
could be found to reap them. A migration of hackney carriages 
began, carrying families on the thousand-mile road to Moscow. 
The newspapers announced the evacuation, and then appeared 
no more ; their linotype machines and founts of type were carried 
off, and all the copper fittings which could be found in the city. 
Only Poles remained, and the very poorest of the Ghetto. 

The civil evacuation was carried out with extraordinary effi- 
ciency and speed. But the real task was the withdrawal of the 
troops from the western lines. The railway to Brest Litovsk 
was reserved for military trains, and about 24th July the Blonie 
forces began to fall back gradually to the suburbs of the city. II 
the army in the front of the sahent was to get clear away the sides 
must be held, and especially that northern side where, on the 
Narev and Bug, the enemy was only some twenty miles distant. 
The holding battle fought there during the last week of July was 


one of the finer episodes of the retirement. Heavy reinforce- 
ments were brought against the Narev, and Gallwitz and Scholtz 
attacked fiercely on 26th July and the subsequent days, but they 
were unable to break the Russian resistance. Farther south, 
where the position was for the moment less critical, the enemy 
won several notable successes. On the 28th Woyrsch succeeded 
in crossing the Vistula between Warsaw and Ivangorod at several 
points south of the mouth of the Pilitza. Ivangorod was now 
untenable, and very wisely it was resolved not to defend the great 
fortress. Evert's army fell back north-eastward, keeping in touch 
with the army defending Warsaw. Next day Mackensen at last 
pierced the southern railway. His left wing, thrust forward 
between LubUn and Cholm, cut the Hne at the station of Biskupice, 
and dominated a section east of that place, while his right advanced 
north-east of Krasnostav to a point five miles south of the Hne. 
The following day Lesch fell back from the railway to a position 
well to the north, and Lublin and Cholm were in German hand^;. 

Feverishly the work of evacuation went on, and the flanking 
forces were able either to hold the enemy or to make his progress 
slow. By 4th August the moment had come for the point of the 
saHent to yield. The stores and guns had all gone eastward, and, 
while the flanking army of the Narev still held, it was high time 
for the centre to fall back. On the evening of 4th August the 
Russians retired without difficulty from the Blonie lines, and 
began to move through the city. For the past days German air- 
craft had been dropping bombs on Warsaw, and the great guns 
had set the western suburbs on fire. By midnight the last troops 
were filing over the bridges, fighting rearguard actions with the 
pursuing cavalry. At three o'clock on the morning of 5th August, 
there was a sound of heavy explosions. The three Vistula bridges 
had been blown up. Two hours later the German cavalry, the 
advance guard of Prince Leopold's army, entered the city. 

The Emperor did not fulfil the expectations of his opponents. 
He made no spectacular entry into the Polish capital. On the 
last day of July he had issued a manifesto to mark the anniversary 
of the beginning of war. It was a curious document, an illus- 
tration of the attitude of the German people as reflected in the 
mind of their Emperor, that faithful mirror of popular opinion. 
In it he repeated the story that an innocent Germany had been 
attacked by a jealous coalition which had been preparing for a 
decade, but " the dykes which she erected in an anticipation that 
she would once more have to defend what she gained in 1870 have 


defied the highest tide in the world's history " ; and he summoned 
his people to a new covenant with the Omnipotence Who had so 
amply blessed their arms. On the news of the crowning mercy 
of Warsaw he permitted himself one modest outburst, and in a 
telegram to the Queen of Greece gave rein to his exultation. " My 
destructive sword," he said, " has crushed the Russians. They 
will need six months to recover. In a short time I will announce 
new victories won by my brave soldiers, who have shown them- 
selves invincible in battle against nearly the whole world. The 
war drama is now coming to a close." He had some cause for his 
pride. The Christmas gift, the birthday gift, had failed ; but 
Warsaw had now come to him as an anniversary memento, a token 
that the first year of war had ended in a German triumph. 

The privilege of entering Warsaw as a conqueror was left to 
Prince Leopold of Bavaria, an old gentleman of seventy, who had 
never before commanded anywhere but at manoeuvres. He had 
married the eldest daughter of the Emperor of Austria, and his 
selection was due to a desire to placate Austrian sentiment, and 
reveal to the world the conquest as due to the valour of both nations. 
Prince Leopold was no Attila, and he had only a remnant to deal 
with. He took hostages after the German fashion, and after the 
same fashion issued a proclamation announcing that he waged 
war against troops and not against peaceful citizens, and inviting 
the people " to trust to the German sense of justice." As he rode 
with his suite in the evening through the Sigismund Square on his 
way to the Palace he saw a glow on the eastern horizon. It was 
the ominous sight which Napoleon had seen — the skies reddened 
with the flames of crops and villages as the armies of Russia fell 
back before the invader. 



April 2g-July 31, 1915. 

The Attack of 6th May— The Australasian Corps at Sari Bair— The Battle of 
4th June — The Withdrawal of the larger Warships — Kitchener's Difficulties 
— The Action of 21st June — The Action of 12th July — Arrival of British Rein- 

We left the Allied forces, after the first movement against Krithia 
on 28th April, extended on a line running from a point on the Gulf 
of Saros, three miles north-east of Capa Tekke, to a point one mile 
north of Eski Hissarlik, whence it bent back a little to the shore 
of the Dardanelles. For the next months the story of the cam- 
paign is concerned with a slow and desperate struggle for Krithia 
and the Achi Baba heights, which were the first steps towards the 
conquest of the peninsula. Before we enter upon the details of 
that struggle it may be well to glance at the problem of the Tur- 
kish communications, for it had a direct bearing upon the Allied 
strategy of the campaign. Liman von Sanders had on the penin- 
sula not less than 70,000 men and a lavish provision of artillery, 
and he had another 20,000 close at hand. To feed his troops and 
supply his guns he needed ample communications, and these could 
not be found in the narrow road from Rodosto across the Bulair 
isthmus, a road bad at the best, and now commanded by the fire 
of the AUied ships in the Gulf of Saros. His true communications 
lay by water down the Sea of Marmora to the ports of Gallipoli 
and Maidos. If this water transport should be hampered, the only 
remaining plan was to bring his reserves and supplies along the 
Asiatic coast to Chanak, and have them ferried over in the dark- 
ness of the night. This was a practicable route, but slow and 
circuitous. If he wished for free and speedy transport he must 
keep the Sea of Marmora inviolate. It was the object of the Allies 


to make that sea impossible, and the only means at their disposal 
was the submarine. Several brilliant enterprises by British sub- 
marine commanders carried the war into the Marmora and up to 
the wharves of Constantinople. The result was that the Sea of 
Marmora was no longer regarded as safe, and the Turkish supplies 
began to travel by the Asiatic shore and the ferries of the Narrows. 
This involved a certain dislocation and delay which were of in- 
estimable service to the Alhed troops which faced the formidable 
batteries of Achi Baba and Kilid Bahr. 

The first advance on Krithia, on 28th April, came short of suc- 
cess because of the weakness and weariness of the attacking force, 
worn out with the desperate struggle of the landing. The failure 
of the landing at Y Beach, which was within a mile of Krithia, 
prevented Sir Ian Hamilton from undertaking an enveloping move- 
ment, and forced him to a frontal assault. Through no fault of 
his the battle in the butt-end of the peninsula had ossified into an 
affair of parallel fronts, for the Anzac forces were too precariously 
situated to turn the enemy defence in flank. Yet it is clear that 
at this stage, had reserves been present, Krithia and Achi Baba 
could have been carried by a direct frontal attack. The tragedy 
of Gallipoli was that when reinforcements came they were invari- 
ably too late, and the situation had so changed, that what could 
have been achieved by their aid a fortnight before was now im- 

On 30th April two further battahons of the Royal Naval Division 
disembarked, and next day came the 29th Brigade of Indian in- 
fantry. The first days of May saw various Turkish attacks which 
failed, and Allied counterstrokes which were brought to an end 
by barbed wire and machine guns. Already the casualty list for 
the British alone was some 14,000, and the Fusilier Brigade of the 
29th Division had lost 68 out of its 104 officers, and more than 
half of its men. Sir Ian Hamilton could now count upon only 
about 33,000 rifles, of which some 5,000 were British regulars. 
He resolved to strike again at Krithia, and the new attempt was 
made on the morning of Thursday, 6th May. The assaulting 
troops were the 29th Division (reinforced by a Lancashire Terri- 
torial Brigade and the 29th Indian Brigade) on the left, and the 
French on the right, supported by part of the Naval Division. Two 
Anzac brigades had been brought down from Gaba Tepe to act as 
a general reserve. The plan of attack was for the left and centre 
to occupy the Krithia ridge, while the French should assault the 
high ground on the right across the valley of the Kereves Dere — the 


small stream which enters the Dardanelles just beyond Eski His- 
sarlik. The French guns opened fire from the neighbourhood of 
Sedd-el-Bahr about eleven in the morning, aiming at the southern 
spur of Achi Baba and the broken ground in front of it towards 
the Krithia road. At the same time the battleships in the Straits 
plastered the upper slopes of Achi Baba and the Turkish trenches 
in the Kereves valley. After half an hour of artillery preparation 
the French infantry attacked in open order, but as they reached 
the top of the slope overlooking the Kereves Dere they came sud- 
denly upon Turkish trenches skilfully concealed behind the crest. 
Part of the Naval Brigade was sent forward to reinforce them, 
but they too fell in with concealed Turkish trenches. Again and 
again through the afternoon the Allied right struggled to advance, 
but the place was too strong, and about 5.30 p.m. the fighting 
died away. The result of the day was that the French had pushed 
forward a mile, and had dug themselves in on the slopes above the 
Kereves Dere, but had failed to carry the Turkish trenches on the 
reverse slope or the redoubt at the top of the valley. That night 
the Turks counter-attacked between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., but the 
French held their ground. The 29th Division on the left had also 
advanced a few hundred yards with heavy casualties. 

Next day, 7th May, about ten o'clock, the ships began a bom- 
bardment of the Turkish right on Achi Baba. They directed 
special attention to the ground at the head of the ravine leading 
to Beach Y. A quarter of an hour later the British left and centre 
attacked, the 87th and 88th Brigades towards the slopes between 
Krithia and the sea, and the Naval Brigades in the centre towards 
Krithia village. They carried the front Turkish trenches, but 
the second line held them up, and their supports were heavily 
shelled by Turkish guns from the heights. Meantime the French 
on the right had lain quiet till noon. Then they began an elabo- 
rate bombardment, and at 3 p.m., supported by part of the 
Naval Division, attacked over the same ground as the day before. 
During the afternoon they made some progress, but about 5 p.m. 
their advanced infantry was caught on the slopes by such a hail of 
shrapnel that the line wavered and broke. The Turks counter- 
attacked and took the French trenches on the crest. D'Amade 
flung in his reserves, and after an hour's severe fighting they 
recovered the lost ground, and held it till nightfall under a heavy 
fire. During the afternoon the British had done Httle. Shortly 
after five our infantry advanced, and about six attempted to carry 
the hill between Krithia and the sea. It proved too strong, but 


as a result of the day we had entrenched our front within 800 
yards of Krithia. It was desperately costly fighting. Our artillery 
fire seemed to have no effect upon the enemy, who had trench lines 
cunningly hidden over the whole position. 

Next day, 8th May, the battle was renewed at ten o'clock. 
Again the ships in the Gulf of Saros bombarded the Turkish right 
and the ground behind it, and after half an hour's " preparation " 
the British left and left centre attacked. The 87th and 88th Bri- 
gades gained further ground in the broken bush country between 
Krithia and the sea. The 86th Brigade and the Australian and 
New Zealand supports were then pushed in to strengthen the line. 
Nothing happened on the right of our front, and during the after- 
noon there was a lull. We were reorganizing our forces, with a view 
to a last attempt upon Krithia village. At 5.15 p.m. all the avail- 
able ships and the shore batteries united in a terrific bombardment. 
The Turkish position appeared to be smothered in flame and smoke, 
and not an enemy gun spoke. But once again we were to learn 
the strength of scientifically prepared entrenchments. At 5.30 
our advance began, and no sooner did we move than the Turks 
opened fire along the whole front with artillery, machine guns, and 
rifles. On the left we moved a little way towards Krithia, but 
soon reached our limit. The French on the right carried the first 
Turkish trenches, and there stuck fast. Confused fighting con- 
tinued till 7.30 p.m., when night put an end to the battle. The 
result of the three days' struggle was that our front had been ad- 
vanced over a thousand yards, but we had not touched the enemy's 
main position. We reaUzed its unique strength, and all idea of 
rushing it was abandoned. 

Meantime the Australasian corps at Sari Bair was persistently 
attacked during the battles of 6th-8th May ; but, though they 
had lent part of their forces to the Krithia front, they held their 
ground at all points. It was this flanking force which the Turks 
especially feared, and they spent the first fortnight of the month 
in ringing it in with elaborate defences. The Australian line 
lay in a semicircle, with the enemy's trenches close up to it — in 
some places as near as twenty yards — except in that part adjoin- 
ing the shore where the ships' guns kept him off. A wide hollow, 
which our men called Shrapnel Valley, divided the position into 
two sections, and on the northern section the Turkish trenches 
were on much higher ground than ours. On the night of i8th 
May Liman von Sanders brought fresh troops from Constantinople, 
and drew off part of his Krithia garrison. About midnight a heavy 


fire from rifle and machine guns broke out against the Australian 
trenches, and at various points attacks were made which crumbled 
before our defence. At 5 a.m. on the 19th the Turkish artillery 
began, and all morning the enemy attempted to rush our lines. 
The cool and steady shooting of the AustraHans kept him at bay, 
and by eleven o'clock the battle died down. It was one of the 
most costly of the enemy reverses, and the Turkish losses were 
believed to be not less than 7,000 men. 

On the main front in the south various changes had taken place. 
The whole of the 42nd East Lancashire (Territorial) Division, under 
General Douglas, had landed, and had replaced the 29th Divi- 
sion in the Hue. The 29th, 42nd, and Royal Naval Division had 
been formed into the 8th Corps, under General Hunter-Weston, 
General De Lisle replacing him in command of the 29th. A second 
French Division had arrived under General Bailloud. On the 
night of the 12th the Gurkhas of the 29th Indian Brigade, under 
cover of a cannonade from the water, rushed the bluffs above 
Beach Y with few casualties. For the rest of the month the battle 
languished, while Sir Ian Hamilton was slowly wringing drafts out 
of the Government at home. All his units had taken the field 
short of establishment, and he found it impossible to keep them at 
anything like a normal strength. Some of the divisions were already 
only divisions in name. His position had become one of tragic 
difficulty. He could not sit still at Helles under the perpetual 
bombardment from Achi Baba. The heats of summer were in- 
creasing, and in that crowded heel of land his position would soon 
be one of intense discomfort and danger. A new attempt must 
be made on Krithia. 

The third action was fought on 4th June. Sir Ian Hamilton 
had, apart from the French, 17,000 bayonets for the attack and 
7,000 in reserve. His dispositions ran : on the left the 29th Divi- 
sion, with the 29th Indian Brigade : on the left centre the 42nd 
Division ; on the right centre the Royal Naval Division ; and on 
the right the 2nd and ist French Divisions. After a " preparation " 
by all the shore batteries and ships' guns, the advance began at noon. 
The Indian Brigade at first made good progress, and captured two 
hues of trenches. Unfortunately, on their right a part of the 29th 
Division had found itself faced with a heavy wire entanglement 
which our artillery had not cut. This checked their progress, 
and the Indians were compelled by enfilading fire to retire to their 
original line. The rest of the 29th Division captured a redoubt 
and two trench lines beyond it, and advanced the front by 300 


yards. The 42nd Division in the centre captured three Hnes of 
trenches, and advanced 600 yards, but they were too far beyond 
the rest for comfort, and after holding an advanced captured trench 
for a day and a night, had to fall back to the second trench. The 
Naval Division progressed for 300 yards, taking a redoubt and a 
line of trenches, but was obliged to yield its gains owing to the 
position on its right. There the French, charging with desperate 
gallantry, retook for the fourth time the redoubt of " Le Haricot," 
but were driven out of it by shell fire. The fruits of this third 
attempt on Achi Baba were an advance of at the most 400 yards 
on a front of three miles, and the occupation of two hnes of Turkish 
trenches. The Allied casualties were heavy, and the affair cannot 
be regarded otherwise than as a costly reverse. 

It was after the battle of 4th June that the need for large rein- 
forcements became too urgent to be denied. After five weeks' 
struggle, in which the fighting had been as desperate as any in 
the war, we had not yet touched the outer Turkish position. The 
German engineers had turned the ground to brilliant defensive 
uses, and even when long lengths of trenches were carried by our 
infantry attacks, there remained redoubts, like the fortius on the 
Western front, to make a general advance impossible. It may be 
questioned whether a more abundant supply of high explosives 
would have greatly altered the case. Our bombardments had been 
lavish enough, but they had scarcely touched the enemy. The 
Gallipoli campaign had revealed itself as a slow and deadly frontal 
attack, in which yard by yard we should have to fight our way 
across the ridges. Such warfare was costly beyond all reckoning. 
Up to 31st May (that is, covering the landing and the first two 
attempts on Krithia) the casualties in the Dardanelles— exclusive 
of the French— reached a total of 38,636, of whom 1,722 were 
officers. The battle losses for the three years of the South African 
War were only 38,156. 

Meantime things were going no less ill on the water. The 
Allied Fleets had shared in every land attack, and the Goeben, on 
the Turkish side, from farther up the Straits, took part in at least 
one engagement. These large vessels, stationary or moving very 
slowly along the coasts, were a superb target for under-water as- 
sault, and presently news came that some of the large ocean-going 
German submarines, which had been commissioned early in the 
year, were on their way to the Mediterranean. About the middle 
of May one was reported near Malta, and there were many spots 
on the long indented Anatolian coast where they could find a base. 


This possibility gave much anxiety to the Allied admirals. Mean- 
time, on the night of T2th May, a Turkish destroyer performed 
a singularly bold feat on its own account. It found the old British 
battleship, the Goliath* protecting the French flank just inside 
the Straits, sunk it by torpedo fire, with a loss of the captain, 19 
officers, and 500 men, and managed to return safely. Such an 
exploit was only possible under cover of darkness, and the risk 
of it did not interfere with the daylight operations of the fleet. 
But presently a far more formidable foe arrived, a foe whose pres- 
ence made naval support — so far at least as concerned the great 
battleships — a very doubtful and costly undertaking. 

About midday on 26th May the Triumph was moving slowly up 
the northern shore of the peninsula in support of the Australasian 
troops. Apparently her nets were out, and there were destroyers 
close at hand. A torpedo from a German submarine tore through 
the nets, struck the vessel amidships, and sank her in nine minutes. 
Here was an incident to give serious thought. The enemy in broad 
daylight, in water full of shipping, had broken through all our safe- 
guards, and destroyed a battleship. The hunt for the submarine 
was vigorously conducted, but nothing was heard of it till next 
day, when the Majestic, steaming very close to the shore, was sunk 
in the same fashion. The Allied Fleets, compelled by the necessities 
of gunnery to move slowly, were obviously at the mercy of an enemy 
under water. From this date, therefore, the larger vessels began to 
withdraw. The Queen Elizabeth returned home, and there remained 
only a few of the older battleships, a number of cruisers, French 
and British, like the Euryalus, Minerva, Talbot, Phaeton, Amethyst, 
and Kleber ; and a flotilla of destroyers, including the Scorpion, 
Wolverine, Pincher, Renard, and Chelmer. In addition we had 
some of the monitors which had operated in October off the Flanders 
coast — a type of vessel whose shallow draught made it most suitable 
for coast bombardment and less vulnerable to submarine attack. 

In the old historical novels the hero, when he was not to be 
observed wending his way on horseback up a mountain path in 
the twilight, was generally found holding a narrow staircase against 
uncounted foes. To the Turks had fallen the favourite romantic 
situation. We had chosen to attack them in one of the strongest 
natural fortresses in the world. The convex arc of the Achi Baba 
heights might have been created for a modern defence. Not a 
yard of it was dead ground ; every foot was exposed to bombard- 
• Built in 1900: 12,950 tons, 19 knots, four 12-in. and twelve 6-in. guns. 


ment from the well-placed guns and the concentric trench lines. 
With a base a few miles square, we attempted by frontal fighting 
to win a step now and then of the staircase. It is true that the 
Australasian Corps had secured a position on the enemy's right rear ; 
but that, too, was a step of a staircase, and our overseas troops 
clung precariously to the edge of the cliffs. Every detail of our 
position was under fire, and there was no safe hinterland for wounded 
and reserves except that to be gained by an embarkation and a voyage. 
The wounded had to go to Alexandria and Malta, and munitions! 
food, and water had to travel many leagues of sea. Drinking water 
had to be brought from Egypt, or further. The position is best 
described in Sir Ian Hamilton's words : " The country is broken, 
mountainous, arid, and void of supplies ; the water found in the 
areas occupied by our forces is quite inadequate for their needs ; 
the only practicable beaches are small, cramped breaks in im- 
practicable lines of cliffs ; with the wind in certain quarters no 
sort of landing is possible ; the wastage, by bombardment and 
wreckage, of lighters and small craft has led to crisis after crisis 
in our carrying capacity ; whilst over every single beach plays 
fitfully throughout each day a devastating shell-fire at medium 
ranges." Such a position would have been grave against a feeble 
opponent. But the Turk was no despicable foe. He had long before 
at Plevna proved himself a great master of defensive war. He was 
aided by the best German military skill and the latest German 
science. He was holding the gate of his sacred capital against the 
infidel — a gate, like the bridge of Horatius, where a thousand might 
be stopped by three ; but his numbers were greater then ours. 
He was like a posse of mailed men on the summit of a narrow stair- 
way, with every advantage of ground, weapon, and forewarning. 

In June the political and strategic importance of the Dardanelles 
expedition had been amply manifested. What had not been 
dreamed of in April had come to pass. The determined attack upon 
Russia could not yet be balanced by a counter-offensive in the West, 
and the Dardanelles was the only terrain where the Allies could 
directly aid the hard-pressed armies of the Tsar. They were 
striking a blow to free the Russian left flank, to secure a passage 
for munitions to the Black Sea ports, and to win for Christendom 
and Russia the cradle of the Orthodox Church and the capital of 
that Eastern Roman Empire to which Russia asserted a claim of 
heirship. The value of the enterprise on Russian pubHc opinion 
cannot be overstated. Strategically, too, there was much to be 
said in its defence. The AlHes could not win the war within reason- 


able time without the help of the Russian armies, and anything 
which conduced to their aid was a contribution to the whole Allied 
cause. Besides, Germany had given the East a special significance. 
It was clear that, as a great land power, she was turning her eyes 
more and more to those vast continental tracts of Eastern Europe 
and Western Asia where sea-power was meaningless. Her victory 
there might threaten India and Egypt, points as vital to the British 
Empire as Verdun and Belfort were vital to France. 

Ever since the first weeks of May the Dardanelles situation 
had weighed heavily on the mind of the British Government. 
The hope of an easy success had gone, and Kitchener was faced 
with a task of which he had not counted the cost — of which indeed 
the cost was beyond his means. Sir Ian Hamilton needed more 
troops, more ammunition, more transport, and it was hard to see 
how his needs could be met without failing in our duty to the 
Western Front and to France. The Russian corps at Odessa had 
become a phantom, and there was no chance of help in that quarter. 
Yet we had gone too far to break off the operations, and any 
retreat would involve a certain loss of credit and a probable loss 
of men. On 17th May, Sir Ian Hamilton, questioned by Kitchener, 
had put his requirements at two fresh army corps. Then came the 
confusion incidental to the formation of the Coalition Government, 
and the War Council was enlarged by the addition of Unionist 
members and changed its name to the Dardanelles Committee. 
Withdrawal was impossible ; it seemed equally impossible to pro- 
vide the strength necessary for an immediate decision ; accordingly 
it was resolved on 7th June to continue operations with such rein- 
forcements as could be spared, so as to distract the Turks and keep 
the door open to Balkan intervention. Three divisions of the 
New Army not allotted to France would be sent out and two Terri- 
torial divisions, and all five would arrive before the end of July. 
With such an accession of strength in prospect. Sir Ian Hamilton 
could prepare his plans. 

Meantime he was about to receive a reinforcement which had 
been promised him in the early days of the campaign — the 52nd 
(Scottish Lowland Territorial) Division, under Major-General 
Egerton. There had been some changes in the commands. Major- 
General Bridges, commanding the Australian Division, had been 
killed, and his successor was Major-General H. B. Walker. 
D'Amade's health had broken down, and he had been replaced 
by General Gouraud. Gouraud, one of the youngest and most 
brilliant of French corps commanders, had earned the name of 


the " Lion of the Argonne " from his winter's work in that forest 
campaign with a corps of Sarrail's Third Army. In Sir Ian 
Hamilton's phrase, " a happy mixture of daring in danger and of 
calm in crisis " made him an ideal leader for the French Colonials. 
No one who ever met Gouraud was likely to forget him. His 
grave and splendid presence, the fire in his dark eyes, the lofty 
resolution in every line and gesture, gave him the air of some 
great paladin of France who had held the marches with Roland 
and Oliver. 

In the battle of 4th June we had advanced in the centre from 
200 to 400 yards on a front of three miles. Our left wing had moved 
only a little way forward, and the French on the extreme right were 
still held up by the ravine of the Kereves Dere. The front was 
now in the form of a semicircle, with the horns flung well back, 
and our next business was to straighten it. The time for bold 
and sweeping efforts had gone by. There had been a moment 
on 28th April when Krithia and the Achi Baba heights had been 
at our mercy ; but, as the Turkish defence consolidated itself, all 
that remained for us was a slow war of " nibbling " and attrition. 
Surprise was out of the question. In Sir Ian Hamilton's words : 
" The enemy was as much in possession of my numbers and dis- 
positions as I was in possession of their first line of defence ; the 
opposing fortified fronts stretched parallel from sea to straits ; 
there was little space left now, either at Achi Baba or at Gaba Tepe, 
for tactics which would fling flesh and blood battalions against lines 
of unbroken barbed wire. Advance must more and more tend to 
take the shape of concentrated attacks on small sections of the 
enemy's line after full artillery preparation. Siege warfare was 
soon bound to supersede manoeuvre battles in the open. Consoli- 
dation and fortification of our front, improvement of approaches, 
selection of machine-gun emplacements, and scientific grouping 
of our artillery under a centralized control must erelong form the 
tactical basis of our plans." These words were written of the 
situation after nth May, but they applied with equal force to the 
position on 5th June. 

During the first fortnight of June there were frequent Turkish 
attacks, directed to regain the trenches lost on the 4th. On 21st 
June a beginning was made with the straightening of the Allied 
front. The most critical position was that of the French corps 
on the right, which was still held up south of the Kereves Dere. 
At 1.30 in the morning a great bombardment began. All the south- 
eastern shoulder of Achi Baba was plastered with heavy shells. 


and the 75-mm. field guns played incessantly on the slopes of the 
ravine. Then came the infantry rush. The 2nd French Division, 
on the left, made good progress. By midday it had captured the 
first two lines of the Turkish position, and taken the much-contested 
Haricot Redoubt, with its tangle of wire and deep-cut trenches 
and machine-gun fortins. They were across the ravine, when they 
found that their right flank was in the air. For the ist Division, 
between them and the Straits, though it had kept line in the first 
onslaught, had been driven back by counter-attacks. Twice the 
division advanced, and twice it was compelled to retire. At a 
quarter to three in the afternoon there was some risk that all 
the gains of the 2nd Division would be lost. General Gouraud 
accordingly issued the order that in the five hours of day- 
light that remained the right of the advance must at all costs 
succeed. British artillery was brought up, and every gun that 
could be massed poured shells on the Turkish lines, while the St. 
Louis in the Straits kept the Asiatic batteries quiet. At six o'clock 
the last assault was delivered, and the position carried. Turkish 
reinforcements coming up were spotted by an airplane, caught by 
the 75 's in the open, and destroyed. By nightfall the French 
had won 600 yards of Turkish trenches, and the whole Allied right 
wing was well beyond the Kereves ravine. 

The right wing having advanced, it remained to bring on the left. 
That left ran from the Krithia road, crossed the ravine called the 
Saghir Dere, about half-way between its head and its mouth, and 
rested on the high ground above the Gulf of Saros. The Saghir 
Dere — known to us as Gully Ravine — was one of those desolate 
and arid water-courses common in Gallipoli and on the Anatolian 
coast. At the sea end its sides were 200 feet high, clothed for the 
most part with a light scrub, but with open patches of yellow clay. 
A small stream, generally dry, trickled down it, and there were a 
few springs. Towards its head it grew shallower, and finally died 
away in the Krithia plateau. The north end was held strongly 
by the Turks, who had entrenched themselves on the top of the 
banks on both sides, and had fortified a small redoubt, which we 
called the Boomerang Fort, in front of their position. The Allied 
plan was to pivot upon a point in our front about a mile from the sea, 
and to swing forward our left wing until its outer flank had advanced 
1,000 yards. This meant that the distance to be covered decreased 
as the pivoting point was neared. The extreme left had to carry 
five Turkish trenches, the left centre no more than two. The forces 
to which the task was entrusted were, from right to left, the 156th 

1915] SUCCESS OF 28th JUNE. 217 

Brigade of the 52nd Division, the 29th Division, and the 29th 
Indian Brigade. The movement was in the charge of General 
Huntcr-Weston. On the morning of 28th June the wind blew 
steadily from the west. At 10.20 a.m. the bombardment began 
with high-explosive shells, and columns of dust hid Achi Baba. 
The French lent some of their big trench mortars, and the cruiser 
Talbot and the destroyers Wolverine and Scorpion from the sea 
enfiladed the trenches of the Turkish right. Our field guns, firing 
shrapnel, succeeded effectually in cutting the enemy's wire. At 
10.20 the bombardment increased, every Allied piece firing in con- 
junction. At 10.45 our infantry rose from the trenches. The 
attack was wholly successful. In an hour and a half we had won 
all we had aimed at except a small section of trench near the 
pivoting point. Most of Gully Ravine was in our hands, and our 
left wing, instead of facing north-east, now faced due east, and 
was considerably less than a mile from Krithia. 

In the last days of June there was fighting all round the penin- 
sula. At Sari Bair at 1.30 on the morning of the 30th a Turkish 
column advanced with bayonets and bombs against Godley's 
division. It never came to the shock, for it was completely broken 
by the musketry and machine-gun fire of the 7th and 8th Light 
Horse. By two o'clock the enemy were routed, and many fell in 
the withdrawal. On the Australian left they had come up against 
a well-concealed sap ahead of our main line, and the dead lay in 
swathes before it. At 3 a.m. they tried again. A small party came 
over the parapets in front of Quinn's Post, and died to a man. The 
main threat against the left and left centre was similarly broken 
up by rifle and gun fire. On the Allied right, too, there was heavy 
fighting. On the night of the 29th the Turks attempted a surprise 
attack along the shore of the straits, but the movement was 
discovered by the searchlights of the Wolverine and brought to 
a standstill. The van of the attack was not stopped till it was 
some forty yards from our trenches. At 6.30 on the morning of 
the 30th the French moved forward, and in less than an hour had 
carried the fortified network known as the Quadrilateral, east of the 
head of the Kereves Dere. The Infanterie Coloniale carried seven 
lines of trenches, and their leading companies for a moment 
were in danger of being cut off. They held, however, to the ground 
they had won, and by the afternoon had beaten off all counter- 
attacks and consolidated their position. This advance, taken in 
conjunction with the advance of the Allied left on the 28th, straight- 
ened out the dangerous bulge in our front. One serious loss marred 


the success of the day. General Gouraud was blown over a wall 
by an 8-in. shell, while visiting the sick and wounded on V Beach. 
The wound, which later involved the amputation of his right arm, 
compelled him to return home and relinquish the command of 
the French Corps to Bailloud. These violent Turkish assaults 
resulted in nothing but the needless loss of many brave men. 
Liman had instructed his troops to act strictly on the defensive, 
and not to attempt to recover lost ground. But Enver, arriving 
during the fight, on the 28th, reversed the policy and ordered 
counter-attacks along the whole front. 

On 12th July the Allies made their last attempt at a frontal 
attack on the Krithia position. The first movement was made 
by the Allied right and right centre, the French Corps, and the 
52nd Division. Our bombardment began at dawn, and thereafter 
our infantry carried the first two lines of Turkish trenches. Some 
of the Scots Territorials indeed went farther, for the objectives set 
by the High Command were not always accurate, and continued 
till they were checked by our own barrage. The bombardment 
continued all day, and at 4 p.m. a special cannonade was delivered 
on the enemy positions in the upper ravines of the Kereves Dere, 
where they ran into the face of Achi Baba. On the right, over- 
looking a ravine, the Turks had a great rectangular redoubt, 
bristling with machine guns. At 5 our guns lengthened and 
attacked the ground where the Turkish reserves might be looked 
for, while a warship bombarded the observation station on the top 
of Achi Baba with 12-inch shells. Then the Scots surged forward 
against the redoubt, and carried it with the bayonet. By night- 
fall 400 yards of ground had been gained. It was a considerable 
advance, which brought us very near to Krithia. But the heights 
of Achi Baba were as far off as ever. 

The discomforts of the life in the peninsula grew as the summer 
advanced and the heat waxed greater. The whole of our position 
was honeycombed with trenches and dug-outs hke a colony of 
sand martins in the bank of a river. There was no shade from 
nature, for the copses were only scrub. The sun beat down pitilessly 
on the acres of rock and gravel, and was reflected from the blue 
waters around. Our men were very close together, and the whole 
earth soon became tainted in spite of all our care. Sunstroke 
cases were few, for the sun of Gallipoli is not the sun of India ; 
but fevers and dysentery began to take their toll. The scarcity of 
water, the difficult journeys for the sick down communication 
trenches and cliff roads, and the long voyage before hospital was 


reached, intensified our discomfort. And everywhere fell a plague 
of flies. Men who had fought in South Africa remembered the curse 
of the fly on the veld ; but the South African scourge was feeble 
compared to the clouds which hung over the baked peninsula. 
Remember there was no movement or chance of movement. The 
troops had to sit still in their stifling trenches, and every acre of 
that butt-end of Gallipoli was searched by the enemy's fire. Under 
such conditions — no movement, grave losses, grave discomforts — 
it was a marvel that we maintained so high a spirit and so steady 
a cheerfulness. Men returned to the habits of their first parents. 
Khaki " shorts," a shirt, and a sun-helmet formed the only wear 
of even exalted generals. The Australians and New Zealanders 
especially, perched in their eyrie at Sari Bair, showed a noble 
disregard of apparel. These troops, embracing in their ranks every 
class and condition, had shown themselves superb fighting men. 
There was a perpetual competition for the posts of danger, and 
money was offered freely for the right to a place in some hot corner. 
Their easy discipline knew none of the usual military conventions ; 
but it was real enough, and got through the work required. They 
had the finest average of physique in any of the belligerent armies 
— those lean, great-limbed men, without an ounce of soft flesh on 
their bodies. In the midsummer heats they were burned to a dull 
brick-red, for they fought almost naked. Coats, shirts, boots, 
and putties disappeared in succession, their trousers shrank into 
" shorts," as they toiled in the dust of the trenches till the hour of 
relief came, and they could wash in the shrapnel-dotted ^Egean. 
The oversea nations of the Empire had won great honour — the 
South Africans among the deserts of German territory, the Canadians 
in the sickly meadows of the Ypres Salient. Not less glorious was 
the record of the Australians in a land as sunburnt as their own. 

The three summer months had been among the most costly in 
our military history. Out of some six British divisions we had lost 
by the end of May over 38,000 men. By the end of June the total 
was over 42,000 ; by the end of July it was nearly 50,000, of whom 
8,000 were killed, 30,000 wounded, and 11,000 missing. The 
French losses were on a similar scale, and the naval losses must be 
added to the total casualties of the expedition. All the divisions 
had suffered, and, to the people of the Scottish Lowlands especially, 
the word Dardanelles came to bear the fateful meaning which 
Flodden bore for their ancestors. The results gained were not 
proportionate to this huge wastage — an advance of two miles 
on our left and one on our right. But not even at Ypres had our 


troops shown a more dauntless courage, a more complete devotion, 
or a more stubborn resolution. In a letter taken from a dead Turk 
was found this sentence : " These British are the finest fighters in 
the world. We have chosen the wrong friends." No kind of war- 
fare involves a sterner trial for the human spirit than the slow 
sapping towards a fortress, when there is no obvious advance, 
no chance of the swift excitement of a manoeuvre battle. Not less 
splendid was the performance of the French Corps. Under Gou- 
raud the newest recruits had fought like heroes, and had shown the 
Turks that furia francese which centuries before had carried the 
walls of Jerusalem. " Shall not thou and I," said King Harry in the 
play to the Princess Katharine, " between Saint Denis and Saint 
George, compound a boy, half-French, half-English, that shall go 
to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard ? " The first 
half of Shakespeare's prophecy had come true. Saint Denis and 
Saint George fought in unison, but the beard of the Soldan was still 
unplucked. In this rivalry of gallant men the enemy was not out- 
done. The Turks fought with all their old patient steadfast- 
ness. They advanced to hopeless assaults, and died in hundreds 
in the open ; they clung to ruined trenches when the Allied steel 
was upon them ; but the stolid Anatolian peasants did not waver. 
To them the war was Kismet, and they obeyed orders uncom- 

By the end of July the complete stalemate had compelled Sir 
Ian Hamilton to revise his strategy. A certain daring Englishman, 
who knew Turkey well, contrived to be taken blindfold one night 
into the enemy's trenches, and for several hours talked to the 
Turkish officers. He was told on parting : " Some day you may 
take Constantinople, but Achi Baba — never." This was rapidly 
becoming the view of those responsible for the expedition. The 
promised reinforcements were arriving during July at Egypt and 
Lemnos. To fling these into the congested butt of the peninsula 
was clearly folly. Had a quarter of the new 50,000 been present 
on 28th April we should by this time have been in Constanti- 
nople. Had a third been there in May or a half in June we should 
have won Achi Baba. That road was now barred, but another 
might be found, and Sir Ian Hamilton examined in turn the pos- 
sibilities of Enos and Bulair and of the Asiatic coast. He found 
good reason for rejecting each terrain, and decided that he would 
use his new reserves in an attempt to break out from the Anzac 
position, and so turn the enemy in flank and rear. The new landing 
would be at Gaba Tepe and Suvla Bay. 



America's Temper — Reasons for her Hostility to Germany — The Difficulties of 
immediate Intervention — President Wilson — German Activities in America 
— Dr. Dumba. 

It is necessary at this stage to turn from the narrative of the cam- 
paigns in the Old World and consider the difficulties which con- 
fronted the greatest of neutral Powers, the Republic of the United 
States. A man who is engaged in a life-and-death struggle is in- 
clined to resent the detachment of a friend, even though that friend 
has not shared in the cause of quarrel. Analogies from private 
life are too readily and too loosely applied to the affairs of nations, 
and surprise and irritation are engendered which seem baseless 
on a dispassionate survey of the facts. During August the neu- 
trality of America became from various causes a razor-edge on which 
it seemed impossible for any government to continue to walk. 
The case for and against intervention was habitually overstated 
by the press of both continents, and in Britain especially there 
was a tendency to underestimate the difficulty of President Wilson's 
problem. America, even as a neutral, was called on to play so 
large a part in the war, and her attitude was so vital to the ulti- 
mate issue, that it will be well to examine with some care the 
intricacies of her position after the first year of conflict. 

The temper of her people at that time and the reasoned con- 
victions of her leaders were preponderatingly hostile to the German 
cause. The large Teutonic admixture in her population had not 
played the part which German publicists had forecast. In 1910 the 
foreign-born elements numbered 13J millions out of a total of 92 
millions. There were just over 2| million Germans, nearly ij 
million Austrians, and half a million Hungarians. The Irish, 
who numbered well over ij million, had lost something of their 
hatred of Britain, save for a few fanatical organizations, and the 



bulk of them, even if they had Uttle love for England, had less for 
Germany. The German-Americans, a thrifty, industrious, and 
law-abiding element, tended far more than most immigrants to 
be speedily absorbed, and to take on the native American char- 
acteristics. They had never played a large part in public life, 
and had developed no distinctive race stock. The younger genera- 
tion was as a rule distinguishable only by its enthusiastic American- 
ism. Hence, except for recent immigrants, there were few bearers 
of German names who felt any real kinship with German ideals 
and interests. There was certainly no racial tradition strong 
enough to stand out against the very real anti-German feeling 
which soon predominated. 

The origin of this feeling must be sought in a number of con- 
verging hues of development. The first was the historic kindness 
for France as an ancient ally, and the growing sense of community 
with Britain. The latter phenomenon deserves some explana- 
tion. In the past there had been endless misunderstandings, for a 
common tradition held with a difference may be the most potent 
of disruptive forces. The American Revolution, and still more 
the War of 1812, had left the seeds of bitterness. Britain's part 
during the Civil War did not improve matters, for the best-interb- 
tioned neutrality in such a struggle must be a provocation to 
criticism. American history-writing in those days was an element- 
ary business— the simple virtues of the republican set against 
the scowUng infamies of the monarchist. But as America advanced 
in power and wealth her outlook broadened. She became more 
critical, and discovered a truer perspective. Her scholars and 
thinkers were less inclined to the worship of mere words, and 
no longer found republicanism the source of all the virtues. Her 
social reformers discovered that a repubUc might be an oUgarchy 
and a monarchy a democracy. As she moved towards a truer 
national culture of her own, she began to realize her debt to the 
Old World, above all to those islands from which she had in- 
herited language, Hterature, law, and a thousand habits of thought. 
The touch of superciHousness which had marred the British 
attitude towards her through much of the nineteenth century dis- 
appeared on a closer understanding, and the whole-hearted admir- 
ation of modern Englishmen for her great personalities hke Lee 
and Lincoln awakened an equal interest in contemporary British 
movements. American flamboyance was a defence against British 
patronage, and the two tended to dechne together. As America 
took her place in the larger life of the world, she developed a new 


appreciation of that old land which had been battling with world- 
problems for four hundred years. She discovered, somewhat 
to her surprise, that in the last resort she had the same way 
of looking at the major matters of hfe as her cousin across 
the seas. 

The recognition of what an American writer has called " like- 
mindedness " did not mean that the two peoples would always see 
eye to eye in everyday matters. There was a great deal of fooHsh 
talk about kinship by British writers and statesmen which was in 
defiance of the proved facts of history. Blood relationship and 
common standards do not prevent members of a family from 
moments of acute exasperation with each other. But in those 
ultimate crises which now and then confront nations and families, 
" like-mindedness " awakens all the subconscious instincts and 
dormant memories, and makes apparent the strong common 
structure below the surface differences. Even the most critical 
and contumacious households are likely in emergencies to show 
a solid front to the world. 

A second reason was to be found in the American philosophy 
of politics. The United States has produced many learned pub- 
heists, but we shall not find her popular political philosophy in their 
admirable works. That philosophy, like all popular creeds, was 
crude and naive, but it was universally held, and impregnated the 
habits of thought of the ordinary man to an extent which was prob- 
ably not to be paralleled from any other people. Its keynote was 
liberty — an unanalysed term which degenerated often into a mere 
catchword, but which represented a very deep and abiding instinct. 
It was the old English instinct expounded with a new accent. 
Usually stated in the high-coloured Jeffersonian style, it was inter- 
preted in practice with Alexander Hamilton's wary good sense. 
A man should be allowed to live his life in the greatest freedom 
compatible with the enjoyment of the same right by his fellows. 
The State had no doubt rights against the individual, but the 
individual had most vital rights against the State. It was for this 
freedom, construed in different senses, that both sides had fought 
in the Civil War. It was this worship of the individual which made 
America the stoniest soil on the globe for communist propaganda. 
It was this instinct which was responsible for much slackness and 
corruption and anarchy in her administration, since no half- 
truth can be safely worshipped. Hence the bureaucratic state, 
such as Prussia, was of all forms of government the most repellent 
to American minds. And this right of the individual to live freely 


was a right, too, of nations, however humble. Caesarism, as well 
as bureaucracy, was anathema. 

Another item in the creed was a profound belief in law, an 
inheritance from English progenitors. The nation which had 
produced Story and Marshall, which lived by a written constitution, 
which had created the Supreme Court, which had fought a great 
war on the construction of a clause in an old document, which had 
had to forgo direct taxation because of a phrase in its charter of 
government, and which submitted time and again to serious admin- 
istrative embarrassment rather than shake loose a single legal fetter 
— such a nation was not likely to have much sympathy with Ger- 
many's view that " reasons of State " might override any law, 
and that international law in especial was only a pious make-believe 
to keep the world quiet while the strong man armed. Laws 
might be broken in a fit of wrong-headedness or weakness, but 
that law should be deliberately contemned seemed to her an out- 
rage on civilization. 

Lastly, into her philosophy of the State she read the ordinary 
ethical code of Christianity. She believed in old-fashioned con- 
servative right and wrong. The ethical anarchism which set 
special individuals or nations above Christian morals seemed to 
her at once blasphemous and silly. She had few subtleties in her 
national soul. Good was good and evil was evil, and no rhetoric 
or hair-splitting would make them otherwise. The strong Puritan 
strain at the back of her mixed ancestry was conspicuous in her 
public professions. Her practice might limp behind her creed, 
but at any rate she would never blaspheme the Hght. Such an 
attitude was not hypocrisy ; it was fidelity to a profound conviction. 

A third reason for fighting shy of Germany was to be found 
in that humanitarianism which is part of the American character. 
There is no reason to question the reality of this attribute. Mon- 
strously cruel in its results as was much of her civilization, it was 
never so consciously or deliberately. She could not be brutal, 
since brutality implies premeditation. The nation was tender- 
hearted, with a great pity for weakness and suffering. Her des- 
perate Civil War was waged on both sides with a singular chivalry. 
The German outrage on Belgium and the long series of infamies 
proved against the armies of the Emperor revolted America in 
her inmost soul. The detestation was increased when it pres- 
ently became clear that these barbarities were calculated and were 
part of a carefully-thought-out system. She might forgive the 
lapses of passion, but never the outrages of copybook desperadoes. 


A fourth cause was the pacificism to which as a national ideal 
she had long been committed. Her Civil War, one of the bloodiest 
in history, had involved the death of a million men, and had 
destroyed the best of her race stocks. The memory of that holo- 
caust had inspired her with an intense hatred of war. Standing 
outside the ordinary diplomatic entanglements of the world, she 
had not brought herself to envisage an armed struggle between 
nations as an eternal contingency. Moreover, as a commercial 
people, she saw the economic loss and folly of warfare, and for long 
she had striven to give effect to her views and to lead the nations 
into the pleasant paths of conference and arbitration. The ele- 
ments of militarism in her daily life were few. Her army was 
small, and as a profession made httle appeal to her youth. Her 
navy was unknown to most of the inhabitants of her vast terri- 
tories. Expenditure even upon defence seemed to her waste, for 
she had no urgent menace before her. Her love of abstractions 
and of high-sounding phrases made peace a favourite counter in 
her popular oratory. In this attitude there were, no doubt, un- 
worthy elements. There was something of the pedant who gener- 
alizes from an exceptional case. There was much of the prosperous 
rich man who repudiates whatever has no immediate cash value. 
There was a touch, too, of self-righteousness, which is not the 
quality that exalteth a nation. Vapourings such as Mr. Bryan's 
were the product of a mind drunk with its ample rhetoric. But 
behind all these pacificist foUies America had a sober conviction 
which did credit ahke to her head and her heart. She had a vision 
of a wiser and not less virile world where " the glories of our blood 
and state " would be independent of the sword. To such an ideal- 
ism the creed of the new children of Odin seemed the last and 
fatalest heresy. 

Last, but not least, among these causes we must rank the in- 
credible blindness of German diplomacy. Intensely conscious of 
her nationaUty, America found certain elements in her population 
treated by German agents as if they were still subjects of the Em- 
peror — which, indeed, according to the German naturalization laws, 
many of them were. Proud of her independence and her position 
in the world, she had to submit to alternate threats and cajoleries, 
and to an insufferable patronage. Count Bernstorff and his coad- 
jutors were masters in the art of blundering. There were weak 
points in the case of the Allies from an American point of view, 
which an adroit man might have used to advantage. There were 
features in the British conduct of the naval war which might easily 


have been turned into an irritant to inflame the quick American 
sense of legality. But Germany flung away lavishly the cards 
which the gods had given her. The AlHes had no need of an advo- 
cate : Germany herself was the chief pleader in their case. 

The consequence was that from the outset of the war the in- 
telligence and the popular feeling of America had been against the 
Teutonic cause. A few political or legal theorists admired the Ger- 
man system ; a few sociologists had an affection for the German 
municipal regime ; a sprinkling of scientists looked up to German 
scholarship ; some of the army officers professed esteem for the 
German army ; one or two great financial houses could not forget 
their German affinities ; and a considerable proportion of German- 
Americans made no secret of their sympathies. But these ele- 
ments, though loudly vocal and well supported by a subsidized 
press, were a mere fraction of the American people. Some even 
of the leading German-Americans were favourable to the Allied 
cause. And the ablest statements of that cause came from the 
pens of men who, in the eyes of their countrymen, were the most 
representative and authoritative Americans. 

It may be asked — it was a stock question at the time in France 
and Britain — why, since America's convictions were thus clear, 
she did not range herself forthwith with the Allies. When inquiry 
was made as to what it was proposed that America should do, the 
reply was that on behalf of international honour and public morals 
she should have declared war upon Germany, or that at any rate 
she should have called her to task. Both came to the same thing ; 
for a protest, to which Germany would have given a summary 
answer, would, if strongly supported, have meant war. What 
reasonable ground was there for holding that it was America's 
duty, apart from direct provocation, to enter the struggle on the 
Allies' side. The matter is important, for on it depends our esti- 
mate of American conduct. We are dealing at present with the 
early stages of the war, before Germany's submarine policy had 
created a definite cause of offence. 

Now it should never be forgotten that a nation, in making the 
momentous decision for or against an armed conflict, is guided 
not by sympathies but by interests. A statesman is bound to 
consider the enduring interests of his country, and not the passing 
moods of popular sentiment. He may for this reason have to 
fight an unpopular war, or to insist upon an unpopular peace. It 
may be the highest unwisdom, because the feelings of his country- 
men are moved on a particular issue, such as the misfortune of a 


dynasty, or the harsh treatment of a little state, to go crusading 
on its behalf. It is not his business to act as censor morum to the 
world at large, or as the knight-errant of distressed peoples. His 
duty is to consider the good of his own realm. Occasionally he 
may be forced by popular clamour to take up arms lest his country 
be rent internally. But, save in this extreme instance, his path is 
clear. The steady light of policy, and not the marsh-fires of senti- 
ment, must be his guiding star. 

In the case of America it might well be argued that her deepest 
interests would be malignly affected by Germany's success. But 
to set against this we must remember that the conflict in the Old 
World appeared to American observers to be at least evenly matched, 
and that they did not seriously believe that Germany would win 
in the long run. Had the odds in favour of the Central Powers 
been greater, American policy might have shaped itself differently 
from the beginning. Again, it was clear that American sympathy 
with the Allies, while sincere in itself, was by no means so intense 
as to force the hand of a poUtic statesman. Advocates for imme- 
diate intervention, such as Mr. Roosevelt, based their argument 
rather on sentiment than on poHcy, and that sentiment was still 
far short of a passion. America as a whole was anxious that the 
Allies should be victorious, but she did not consider it her duty 
to take up cudgels in a quarrel which at first only remotely con- 
cerned her. Her statesmen beheved with much reason that 
neutrality was for her the path of interest, and by no means incon- 
sistent with honour. The popular temper was slightly different, 
but not different enough to set up a dangerous antagonism to 
these counsels of peace. 

President Wilson, therefore, played a discreet and aloof part, 
and he was supported in it by the great majority of his country- 
men. America realized what many of her critics failed to under- 
stand, that an active participation in the conflict was the only 
alternative to complete neutrality, and she did not see her way to 
so bold a step. She knew Httle about the actual quarrel, for the 
average American was profoundly ignorant of foreign affairs. She 
remembered Washington's warning against European engage- 
ments,* and Jefferson's famous watchword, " Peace, commerce, 
and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alHances with 
none." Her cherished Monroe Doctrine was the charter of her 

• " Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have note or very remote 
relations. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which 
are essentially foreign to our concerns." 


detachment. At the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 she 
had formally restated her " traditional policy of not intruding 
upon, interfering with, or entangling herself in the political ques- 
tions or policy or internal administration of any foreign state," 
and she had become a party to the Algeciras Treaty with the 
same reservation. A decade esurlier she had appeared to assume 
the duties of a World Power, but her experience in the PhiHppines 
had caused a reaction against this nascent imperialism, and her 
recent relations with Mexico had sickened her of foreign adventures. 
These reasons decided public opinion, and, since in America 
public opinion is the true sovereign. President Wilson was loyal 
to his master. The President of the United States has in theory 
more absolute executive powers than any ruler in the world. But 
he is bound to an unseen chariot wheel. He dare not outrun the 
wishes of the majority of the citizens. His pace is as fast as theirs, 
but no faster, or he courts a fall. A true democracy is a docile 
follower of a leader whom it has once trusted. But an incomplete 
democracy, such as America, demands not a leader but a fellow- 
wayfarer who can act as spokesman. Hence it was idle to talk of 
President Wilson's policy as if it were the conclusions and deeds 
of an individual. It was his business to interpret the opinion of 
America at large, and there is no reason to believe that he erred 
in this duty. A vital and magnetic personality like Mr. Roose- 
velt could, indeed, create opinion on his own account, and initiate 
novel departures. But Mr. Roosevelt was not the orthodox Presi- 
dential type. Mr. Wilson was far more in the true line of suc- 
cession from the founders of the republic. He was a man of wide 
and liberal ideas, and a deeply-read student of history and politics. 
Probably no modern ruler has ever brought to his task a stronger 
equipment of theoretical knowledge. Though a Democrat, he did 
not follow the Jeffersonian tradition, and his best-known political 
work revealed him as an enthusiast for the new American imperi- 
alism. His political career before his election showed that he 
possessed courage and initiative. In those days he described him- 
self as " a conservative with a move on," a phrase which may be 
taken as a summary of the central public opinion of both America 
and Britain. His detractors called him academic, but the term 
was an unwilling tribute to the judicial quality of his mind. Having 
decided that the temper and the interests of his country were on 
the side of neutrality, he balanced the scales with a meticulous 
precision. That in itself was no slight achievement in the midst 
of a universal hurricane of war. 


His mistake, and that of his friends, was that they were apt in 
their public utterances to base their poHcy on the wrong grounds, 
and to spoil their case with irrelevant rhetoric. America's con- 
duct was founded on self-interest and on nothing else. She looked 
to present and future advantages, as she was justified in doing. 
No man is bound to be a crusader, and no nation is called upon to 
be quixotic. But when the President, in an unfortunate phrase, 
declared that America was " too proud to fight," and when others, 
with half the world suffering for the eternal principles of right and 
wrong, announced that American neutrality was a triumph in 
the cause of human progress, it had an ugly air of cant. Common 
sense is an excellent thing in its way, but it is not heroic. The 
successful merchant becomes an offence when he masquerades as 
a paladin. 

The American attitude was a godsend to Germany, but the 
latter had not the wit to appreciate her blessings. The difficulty 
arose over the Allied command of the sea. American markets 
were open to all the belligerents to purchase munitions of war, 
but only the Allies could take delivery. Germany protested that 
this one-sided commerce was a breach of neutrality, which it cer- 
tainly was not, and received on this point a very clear answer from 
the President. Then she set herself with immense industry to 
hamper the Allied purchases by fomenting internal trouble in the 
United States. Presently came the British blockade, and her reply 
to it by submarine warfare. The indiscriminating nature of the 
latter campaign was certain to bring about trouble with neutrals, 
but Germany presumed upon American disinclination for war. 
She believed that she had the measure of Washington, and that 
if she spoke fair words she could escape the consequences of her 
own offences, and, if fortune smiled, even provoke a breach with 
Britain. She trusted Count Bernstorff and his merry men to 
organize German sympathizers across the Atlantic, and use the 
western and the southern states to balance the eastern. Mean- 
while her submarines would pursue their business unchecked. If 
America suffered she would apologize — and a little later dc it 

The sinking of the Lusitania, when over a hundred of her citi- 
zens lost their lives, first awoke America to the nature of Germany's 
game. It led to the retirement of that clumsy diplomatist, Herr 
Dernburg, who at the request of the American Govcnment re- 
turned to his fatherland on 13th June. In an earlier chapter we 
have considered President Wilson's Notes to Berlin, and the evasive 


answers they received. The Note of 21st July was in the nature 
of an ultimatum. It declared that American citizens were within 
their rights in travelling wherever they wished on the high seas, 
and that the American Government would take the necessary steps 
to protect these rights. Germany was not slow to put this resolu- 
tion to the proof. At half-past nine on the morning of Thursday, 
19th August, the White Star liner Arabic, which had left Liverpool 
for New York the afternoon before, was torpedoed and sunk off 
Cape Clear without warning by a German submarine. The loss 
of life was small, as the vessel remained afloat for ten minutes, 
and there was time to lower the boats. But the indignation in 
America at this outrage was great, for twenty-six Americans were 
among the passengers. The first German excuses were that the 
Arabic was a British ship going out for a cargo of war materials, 
and carrying on board gold to pay for them ; that the vessel had 
been mined, not torpedoed ; and that in the alternative, if tor- 
pedoed, it was because she had tried to ram the submarine after 
notice had been given her to stop. This curiously inconsistent 
defence was disproved in every detail by the officials of the ship- 
ping company, and by the affidavits of American survivors. The 
wrath of the American people was so unmistakable that Count 
Bernstorff thought it well to trim. He implored Washington to 
wait for the official report, adding the usual diplomatic assurance 
about his Government's regret if American lives had been lost. 
Eight days later he informed Mr. Lansing that full satisfaction 
would be given to America for the sinking of the Arabic, while 
Jagow announced that before that event Germany had adopted 
a policy designed to settle the whole submarine problem. 

What this policy was appeared on ist September, when Count 
Bernstorff handed Mr. Lansing a written pledge. " I beg to in- 
form you," it ran, " that my instructions concerning our answer 
to your last Lusiiania Note contain the following passage : ' Liners 
will not be sunk by submarines without warning, and without 
ensuring the safety of the lives of non-combatants, provided that 
the Hners do not try to escape or offer resistance.' Although I 
know that you do not wish to discuss the Lusitania question until 
the Arabic incident has been definitely and satisfactorily settled, 
I desire to inform you of the above, because this policy was de- 
cided upon by my Government before the Arabic incident occurred." 
This undertaking obviously fell far short of America's require- 
ments. It ignored Mr. Lansing's assertion of the rights of neutrals 
bound on lawful errands in ships of belligerent nationality to be 

igiS] HIS POLICY. 231 

preserved in life and limb, for no submarine was able to ensure 
their preservation. It could drive them into the boats before 
torpedoing the vessel, but small boats in mid-ocean may be a 
slender basis of security. There were cases during the war of one 
being without food and water for four days before being picked 
up, and of consequent deaths from exposure. Again, it applied 
only to passenger liners and not to ordinary merchant ships. Fur- 
ther, a submarine could sight a liner before a liner could see a sub- 
marine, and the field was wide for bogus charges of attempted 
escape. Yet in spite of its ambiguity and insufficiency, the under- 
taking was received in America with a paean of triumph over Mr. 
Lansing's diplomacy, and eulogies of Count Bernstorff' s modera- 
tion. That a hard-headed race should have shown such enthusiasm 
over a dubious promise showed the intense disinclination of the 
American people for war, and President Wilson's success in inter- 
preting the feelings of his countrymen. 

The truth was that at this time the star of Tirpitz was ob- 
scured. Germany found that her submarines were mysteriously 
disappearing, and that the value of the whole campaign was scarcely 
worth the price. Quick to seize a momentary advantage. Count 
Bernstorff used the new temper of America to angle for the support 
of the peace sentimentalists. His agents in the press and else- 
where hinted not obscurely that the Emperor wished to settle 
the submarine controversy in order to get the help of the United 
States in bringing the war to a close. This was indeed Germany's 
main desire at the moment, and, while her arms were triumphant 
in Russia, she hoped for a peace on her own terms. But in the 
midst of this atmosphere of brotherhood, when righteousness and 
peace in the shape of the German Embassy and the American 
Foreign Office kissed mutually, there fell a thunderbolt. About 
half-past eight on the night of Saturday, 4th September, the Allan 
liner Hesperian was torpedoed without warning, 130 miles west 
of Queenstown. The vessel did not sink immediately, and was 
towed towards port, but foundered at seven o'clock on the morn- 
ing of Monday, the 6th. There was a small loss of life, but among 
the crew were two American citizens. The incident played havoc 
with the new harmony. It was clear to America that whatever 
the Government of Berlin might say, and whatever instructions 
might be given, submarine commanders would go on their old 
path, and would invent some excuse or other to cover their actions. 
The irritation was increased by the official Note on the subject 
of the Arabic, which was handed to the Ambassador in Berlin on 


7th September. In it an unbelievable tale was told of a deliberate 
attack by the liner on the submarine, and it was announced that, 
even if the commander had made a mistake, Germany could 
not recognize any duty of compensation. In the event of no 
agreement being reached, she offered to submit the matter to the 
Hague Tribunal. This Note the American Government refused 
to accept. 

It was now becoming apparent that no undertaking by Germany 
had any real significance, since in each case she would allege some 
special circumstance which took it out of the general rule she had 
agreed to observe. While the reaction from the premature re- 
joicing of the first days of September was in full swing, American 
patience received the hardest trial of all. It was bad enough to 
have Germany playing fast and loose with the lives of American 
citizens on the high seas, but it was worse to find her tampering 
with domestic affairs within America itself. For months there had 
been rumours of sinister underground activities directed from 
the German Embassy in Washington. Passports had been falsi- 
fied — a work in which the naval and military attaches, Boy-Ed 
and von Papen, were the prime movers. The methods of the 
Black Hand were adopted. There were dynamite outrages in 
Canada and incendiary fires in various factories throughout the 
Union. German money was lavished in subsidizing a portion of 
the American press, and in distributing pro-German literature. 
During August the New York World published documentary evi- 
dence to prove the establishment of a German press bureau under 
the pretence of an impartial agency for the supply of news. It 
showed that Count Bernstorff had an income of some ;^400,ooo a 
week for propagandist purposes. It proved also that German 
emissaries were engaged in engineering strikes in American munition 
works, and that German agents were urging the Imperial Chan- 
cellor to prevent the dispatch of goods purchased in Germany by 
United States manufacturers in order that the blame might be 
put upon the British blockade. This constituted a gross inter- 
ference with internal American affairs, which not even the most 
pacific people would be likely to tolerate. But matters reached 
a head on 6th September, when the Dumba case was made public. 

This business, for all its seriousness, belonged so much to the 
world of pure comedy that it affords a welcome relief to the 
grimmer chronicle of war. On 30th August the steamer Rotterdam 
touched at Falmouth. In it was an American journalist, Archi- 
bald by name, whose aim in life seems to have been the acquiring 

1915] DR. DUMBA. 233 

of minor foreign decorations. The night before his departure 
from New York this agreeable cosmopoHtan had dined with the 
German and Austrian Ambassadors, and, as an aspirant for the 
Iron Cross, had been entrusted with some highly confidential 
messages. He was also given a number of letters of introduction, 
including one to Kuhlmann at the Hague, and in a covering letter 
Count Bernstorff expressed his pleasure that he was once more 
returning to Europe " after having promoted our interests out 
here in such a zealous and successful manner." In another letter 
von Papen wrote of him as " a strictly impartial journalist." This 
pose was, of course, necessary for the success of the former activities. 
In the Archibald budget seized by the British authorities there 
were documents bearing the signatures of Count Bernstorff, Dr. 
Dumba, and von Papen. Count Bernstorff's principal contri- 
bution was a copy of his memorandum to Mr. Lansing of loth 
June, in which he dealt with the charges of American newspapers 
that Germany was negotiating for the purchase of factories and 
war material in the United States. These charges he categori- 
cally denied. There was also a memorandum from the same hand, 
dated i8th August, in which he faced the difficult problem raised 
by the New York World's disclosures. On the 31st of July Dr. 
Albert, the Financial Adviser to the German Embassy, had lost 
his portfolio in the New York Elevated Railway, stolen from him, 
he declared, by the spies of the British Secret Service. This port- 
folio came, as we have seen, into the hands of the New York World, 
and for a week or so made sensational reading for the students of 
American journalism. Count Bernstorff accordingly felt himself 
obliged to offer to the American Government a " short statement 
concerning the facts." He did not disclaim any longer the German 
attempt to obtain control of American munition factories, or to 
purchase their output. He declared, indeed, that nothing of the sort 
had as yet been achieved, but he asserted — with some reason — 
Germany's right to do it if she had the money for the purpose. 
That Germany had ever tried to stir up strikes or " take part in 
a plot against the economic peace " of America he resolutely denied. 
He denied also that there was anything improper in the very 
modest press campaign which Germany had conducted. So 
much for the Ambassador. Unfortunately, his wholly correct 
sentiments were not shared by his colleagues and underlings. 
Dumba and von Papen ingenuously toppled down the tall tower 
of ambassadorial decorum. 

Dumba, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, was one of those 


stormy petrels of diplomacy who have often found shelter in the 
dovecotes of the Ballplatz. A Macedonian by birth, the world 
first heard of him as an agent-provocateur in the Balkans. He was 
a walker in tortuous ways, with a front of brass and an elastic con- 
science. The Archibald portfolio contained three of his dispatches 
to the Foreign Minister at Vienna. The first was not published. 
The second contained a very full description of the efforts he had 
made to stir up unrest among the munition workers. This was 
dated 20th August, two days after Count Bernstorff had sent his 
official denial to Mr. Lansing. " It is my impression," wrote 
Dumba, " that we can disorganize and hold up for months, if not 
entirely prevent, the manufacture of munitions in Bethlehem and 
the Middle West, which, in the opinion of the German military 
attache, is of great importance, and amply outweighs the com- 
paratively small expenditure of money involved." In the next 
sentence he revealed himself as a social reformer. " Even if the 
strikes do not come off, it is probable that we should extort more 
favourable conditions of labour for our poor down-trodden fellow- 
countrymen. In Bethlehem these white slaves are now working 
for twelve hours a day and seven days a week ! All weak per- 
sons siiccumb and become consumptives." Dumba was a provi- 
dent soul, and was resolved, if the secret came out, to pose as a 
philanthropist. Then he proceeded to implicate the German Em- 
bass\^ " So far as German workmen are found among the skilled 
hands, a means of leaving will be provided immediately for them. 
Besides this, a private German registry office has been established, 
which provides employment for persons who have voluntarily 
given up their places, and it is already working well." He enlarged 
on the details. He explained what the local Hungarian, Slovak, 
and German press was doing, and how its activities could be 
increased. It may be noticed in passing that this was a libel on 
the Slovaks in America, who had shown themselves throughout on 
the side of the Allies. One passage revealed the main lines of the 
plot. " To Bethlehem must be sent as many reliable Hungarian 
and German workmen as I can lay my hands on, who will join 
the factories and begin their work in secret among their fellow- 
workmen. For this purpose I have my men turners in steel-work. 
We must send an organizer who, in the interests of the Union, 
will begin the business in his own way. We must also send 
so-called ' soap-box ' orators, who will know how to start a useful 
agitation. We shall want money for popular meetings, and pos- 
sibly for organizing picnics. In general, the same applies to the 


Middle West. I am thinking of Pittsburg and Cleveland in the 
first instance." 

The third Dumba dispatch was a long rigmarole about the best 
ways of inflaming the anger of American importers against Britain. 
There was also a letter in which the New York World disclosures 
were discussed. "Count Bernstorff," we were told, " took up the 
position that these slanders required no answer, and had the happy 
inspiration to refuse any explanation. He is in no way compro- 
mised." As we know, Count Bernstorff did explain the whole 
matter to Mr. Lansing, and had the happy inspiration to deny the 
charge of fomenting strikes. Dumba, who knew the truth, went 
on to console himself and his employers with the reflection, " there 
is no evidence to support the main charge." That evidence, by 
the favour of Archibald, the world possessed on 6th September. 

Von Papen's contributions were the most curious of all. One 
referred to the ordinary small talk of the espionage business. One, 
addressed to the German Ministry of War, revealed the fact that 
German agents had bought up large amounts of war material, and 
had great difficulty in knowing what to do with them. It was 
proposed, among other things, to dump a quantity of toluol on 
the Norwegian Government. But the most interesting document 
was a private letter which is worth quoting in full : — 

" We have great need of being bucked up, as they say here. Since 
Sunday a new storm has been raging against us — and because of what ? 
I'm sending you a few cuttings from the newspapers that will amuse 
you. Unfortunately they stole a fat portfolio from our good Albert 
in the Elevated (English Secret Service, of course !), of which the 
principal contents have been published. You can imagine the sen- 
sation among the Americans ! Unfortunately there were some very 
important things from my report among them, such as the buying 
up of liquid chlorine and about the Bridgeport Projectile Company, 
as well as documents regarding the buying up of phenol (from which 
explosives are made), and the acquisition of the Wrights' aeroplane 
patent. But things like that must occur. I send you Albert's reply 
for you to see how we protect ourselves. We composed the document 
together yesterday. It seems quite likely that we shall meet again 
soon. The sinking of the Adriatic [sic] may well be the last straw. 
I hope in our interest that the danger will blow over. How splendid 
on the Eastern front ! I always say to these idiotic Yankees they had 
better hold their tongues — it's better to look at all this heroism full 
of admiration. My friends in the army are quite different in this way." 

No nation, not even the most pacific, likes to be called idiotic 
The Archibald disclosures coming on the top of the unsatisfactory 


reply about the sinking of the Arabic, and the more recent Hesperian 
incident, left an ugly impression on the public mind of America. 
The Austrian Embassy was revealed as a nest of insolent intriguers. 
The German ambassador was shown writing pompous disclaimers 
to Mr. Lansing with his tongue in his cheek, while his satellites of 
the von Papen type were busy at the very activities which he denied. 
The whole German attitude towards the United States was now 
blindingly clear. " These good and naive Americans," said the 
German Government, " live on a diet of windy words. Let us 
flatter their bent and give them plenty of this inexpensive pro- 
vender, and we need not deviate one inch from the course we have 
set ourselves. They are determined not to fight, and will seize 
on any shadow of an excuse to keep out of the quarrel." 

This conclusion, though it had much surface justification, was 
a complete misreading of the American temper. We need not 
blame the Teutonic ambassadors too much. The private cor- 
respondence of most embassies, if published unexpectedly, would 
make sensational reading for the countries concerned. " The most 
malicious democrat," wrote Bismarck on one occasion, " can have 
no idea what nullity and charlatanry are concealed in diplomacy." 
But we may be grateful that a fortunate chance let in the light on a 
colossal humbug. America was wounded in her amour propre, and 
was compelled to take firm action. Washington demanded that 
Dumba should be recalled, on the ground that he had been guilty 
of a violation of diplomatic propriety. Vienna hesitated and quib- 
bled, and Dumba was thereupon handed his passports. By the 
middle of September the reputation of the German Embassy had 
fallen hke speculative stocks in a financial crisis. The chance of 
floating an Allied loan, which had not been rosy during the summer, 
and in the beginning of September had looked black indeed, had 
by the middle of the month suddenly become hopeful. The 
Government objection had been the risk of stirring up bad feeUng 
between the heterogeneous elements in the American people, but 
Count Bernstorff and his friends had nullified that argument. 
Their ill-advised intrigues had spilt the fat into the fire, and made 
a decorous neutrality impossible. 



August 6-27, 1915. 

The New Plan — Suvia Bay and its Neighbourhood — The New British Divisions — 
The Preliminary Attack at Cape Helles — ^The Anzac Advance on Koja Chemen 
— ^The Landing at Suvla — Its Failure. 

By the end of July preparations had been made for a final effort 
against the Gallipoli defences. Three divisions of the New Army 
and two Territorial Divisions had arrived in the Eastern Medi- 
terranean, and a mounted Division had been for some months in 
Egypt. The submarine menace had sent the monsters of the 
British Fleet back to home waters or to the shelter of protected 
harbours, and during the summer only the destroyers, a few light 
cruisers, and an occasional battleship were seen off the shores of 
the peninsula. But in July new craft arrived, specially con- 
structed to meet the case. A strange type of monitor, with a free- 
board almost flush with the water, and looking more like a Chinese 
pagoda than a ship, suddenly appeared in the northern ^gean. 
They were of different sizes, the smaller being little more than float- 
ing gun-platforms ; but they were admirably suited for their pur- 
pose. Even the little ones, with a crew of seventy, could fling 100 
lbs. of high explosive twelve miles, and they feared submarines no 
more than a gull fears a swordfish. There were also cruisers pro- 
tected by lateral protuberances, which our men knew as " bhster 
ships," and motor lighters, profanely called " beetles," for landing 
purposes. The preliminaries of the new assault on the naval side 
were prepared. 

The plan which Sir Ian Hamilton had evolved was bold and 
ingenious. To understand it we must note the features of the penin- 
sula north of the Anzac position. The Australians held, as we have 



seen, the edge of the plateau at the top of the long ravines which 
run to the coast. Eastwards the land rises in the uplands of Sari 
Bair, till about a mile and a half north-east of the position the cul- 
minating point of the system is reached in the peak 305, nearly 
1,000 feet high, called by the Turks Koja Chemen. On all sides 
the ground slopes away from the crest, which is distant some four 
miles as the crow flies from the waters of the Straits, and five from 
Maidos and the Narrows. North and west a jumble of ridges 
falls towards the Gulf of Saros — ridges v/ildly broken and confused, 
sometimes bare scree and clay, sometimes matted with scrub and 
separated by dry and tortuous nullahs. From a point on the shore 
of the Gulf of Saros south of the Fisherman's Hut a fairly well- 
marked ridge, called Walker's Ridge in the lower part, runs up to 
the Koja Chemen summit. On this there are various points which 
were to become only too famous, notably Chunuk Bair, nearly 900 
feet high, and Q, or Nameless Peak, between it and Hill 305. 
North of this is a watercourse called the Sazli Beit Dere, and a 
little farther north the Chailak Dere. Separating the two is a 
long spur which leaves the parent massif just west of Chunuk Bair. 
Its upper part was called by our men Rhododendron Ridge, and 
the under features nearer the coast were known as Big and Little 
Table Tops. North of Chailak Dere is another ridge, with the 
feature known as Bauchop's Hill. Still farther north is a wide 
watercourse, the Aghyl Dere, which near its head splits into two 
forks, both descending from Hill 305. From the Fisherman's 
Hut the flat ground between the hills and the sea widens north- 
wards, as the coast sweeps towards the cape called Nebrunessi. 
Beyond is the half-moon of Suvla or Anafarta Bay, two miles wide, 
enclosed between Nebrunessi and the cape of Suvla Burnu, the 
north-western extremity of the Gallipoli Peninsula. 

The hinterland of Suvla Bay is curious. It consists of a rec- 
tangle of hills lying north of the Azmak Dere watercourse, and con- 
nected towards the east with the outflankers of the Koja Chemen 
system. The north side, lining the coast, is the ridge of Karakol 
Dagh, over 400 feet high. The south side, lining the Azmak Dere, 
and breaking down into flats, two miles from the coast, is a blunt 
range, rising as high as 500 feet, of which the westerly part is called 
Yilghin Burnu, and was to become noted later as Chocolate Hill. 
The eastern side of the rectangle is a rocky crest, rising in one 
part to nearly 900 feet, and falling shorewards in two well-marked 
terraces. Between the three sides of hill, from the eastern terraces 
to the sea, the ground is nearly flat. Along the edge of Suvla Bay 

The Salt Lake, Suvla Bay 
From a painting by Norman Wilkinson 

• \ 

U\ i 


1915] SUVLA BAY. 239 

runs a narrow causeway of sand, and immediately behind it lies 
a large salt lake, in summer partly dried up, but always liable 
to be converted by rain into an impassable swamp. Eastward 
of it the hills and flats are patched with farms and scrub, mostly 
dwarf oaks, and on the edge of the terraces the scrub grows into 
something like woodland. Everywhere the plain is cracked with 
futile watercourses. Two villages are points in the hinterland — 
Kuchuk (or Little) Anafarta on the slopes at the south-eastern 
angle of the enclosing hills, and Biyuk (or Big) Anafarta two miles 
south across the watercourse of the Azmak Dere, and just under 
the northern spurs of Koja Chemen. The road connecting the two 
runs southwards to Boghali Kalessi on the Straits. 

In the beginning of August the Fast of Ramadan was drawing 
to its close, and for a little there had been something like stagnation 
in the opposing lines. Sir Ian Hamilton, aware that the Turks 
were massing forces for a new attack, was resolved to anticipate 
them. The plan he adopted involved four separate movements. 
In the first place, a feint was to be made at the head of the Gulf 
of Saros, as if to take in flank and rear the Bulair lines. Next, a 
strong offensive would be assumed by the troops in the Cape Helles 
region against their old objective, Achi Baba. These two move- 
ments would be read by the Turks as the main British offensive 
and its covering feint, and it was hoped would lead them to send 
their reserves to Krithia. But in the meantime the Anzac Corps 
was to advance with its left, and attempt to gain the heights of 
Koja Chemen and the seaward ridges. It was impossible to attack 
eastward, for on that side the enemy was well prepared ; but if 
Birdwood could strike out to the north-east, and then wheel to 
his right, he would assail Sari Bair on its steep north-western 
slopes, where no attack was expected. Simultaneously, a great 
new landing would be made at Suvla Bay, where it was believed 
the Turks would be wholly unprepared. Suvla Bay had the advan- 
tage that it was well sheltered from the prevailing winds, and 
afforded a submarine-proof base. If the Anafarta hills could be 
taken, and the right of the new landing force linked up with the 
left of the Australasians, the British would hold the central crest 
of the spine of upland which runs through the western end of the 
peninsula. Such gains would enable them to cut the communi- 
cations of the Turks in the butt-end, the one land route to Maidos 
would be commanded, and the way would be prepared for an 
action in open country, when the grim Turkish fortifications of 
the Pasha Dagh would be taken in flank and in reverse. If the 


undertaking attained the most reasonable success, the western 
end of the peninsula would be ours, and the European defences 
of the Narrows would be won. 

The plan was bold, but entirely legitimate, and its details were 
worked out with great care by Sir Ian Hamilton and his Staff. 
The element of surprise could be rightly counted upon. Some of the 
operations would be difficult, but no single one seemed beyond the 
capacity of British troops. He had the necessary force to make the 
attempt, and considerable reserves behind his first attack. The 
plan was indeed one of the few strategic devices showing any origi- 
nality and imaginative breadth which the Allies evolved during the 
first two years of the war. But at the same time it was attended 
by many risks. The chief danger lay in the fact that all the move- 
ments were so closely interdependent. Exact timing was impera- 
tive, since three separate forces were employed, and for this was 
needed not only a good Headquarters plan, but the most assiduous 
Staff supervision from hour to hour. But the staffs of the new 
divisions were still raw to their task, and their first employment 
in the field was to be in a surprise landing and intricate night 
movements. Moreover, the troops engaged must be of uniform 
capacity, for the failure of any one unit would jeopardize the 
success of the whole. A defect in divisional leading or in the 
stamina of one brigade would nullify the most splendid victories 
of other parts of the line. Such a risk is inevitable in any elaborate 
movement, but in this case it was accentuated by the fact that 
a considerable portion of the attacking force was wholly untried. 
The three new divisions destined for the attempt had never before 
been in action. One, the 13th, had indeed had a few weeks' 
experience on the Helles front, but the others were novices in war. 
It will be seen that Sir Ian Hamilton had devised an intricate 
scheme for which he had at his disposal somewhat raw material. 
He chose to take the risk in the hope that the new divisions 
would show the same aptitude as the 42nd and the 52nd. Indeed, 
unless he were to forgo the chance, he had no alternative, for to 
move his seasoned troops from Helles to Suvla would have cast an 
impossible burden upon the Navy and the transport services. 

The 13th (Western) division of the New Army, under Major- 
General F. C. Shaw, began to arrive at Helles in the first half of 
July. The nth (Northern) Division, under Major-General Ham- 
mersley, appeared in the second half of the month, one brigade 
going to Helles and two to Imbros. At the end of July came the 
loth (Irish) Division under Lieut.-General Sir Bryan Mahon, 


part of it going to Mitylene in Lesbos, and part to Mudros. The 
two Territorial Divisions— the 53rd Welsh (Major-General F. S. 
Inglefield) and the 54th East Anglian (Major-General the Hon. 
J. E. Lindley) were not due till loth August. A new army corps, 
the 9th, was constituted from the loth, nth, and 13th Divisions, 
under the command of Lieut. -General Sir Frederick Stopford. 
Sir Ian Hamilton had no say in the appointment of the commanders ; 
he had asked for Sir Julian Byng and Sir Henry RawUnson for the 
new corps, but was refused, and could only acquiesce in Kitchener's 
nominations. Sir Frederick Stopford was a man of over sixty, and 
though a distinguished Staff officer had never held high command 
in the field. General Inglefield was also over sixty. General 
Hammersley was in poor health, and had recently had a serious 
breakdown. The choice of commanders obviously increased the 
unknown risks of the Suvla enterprise, for they were as unproved 
in this form of war as the troops they led. According to Sir Ian 
Hamilton's plan, Birdwood, for his attack on Sari Bair, was to 
have his two Anzac divisions, together with the new 13th Division, 
the 29th Brigade of the loth Division, and the 29th Indian Brigade. 
Stopford, at Suvla, would have the remaining brigades of the loth 
Division, the nth Division, and presently the 53rd and 54th 
Territorial Divisions. For the total operation there would be — 
at Helles, 23,000 British and 17,000 French infantry ; at Anzac, 
37,000 ; at Suvla, 30,000. The Turkish forces now on the penin- 
sula were probably not less than a dozen divisions. It was a 
weak point in the British plan that so large a proportion had to 
be maintained at Helles, the least vital part of the battlefield, 
because of a threatened Turkish attack which might ruin at the 
outset all our preparations. 

Let us consider first the preliminaries to the main assault. 
On the afternoon of Friday, 6th August, the 8th Corps at Cape 
Helles made a general attack upon the Turkish position at Achi 
Baba. The brunt of the fighting fell to the 29th Division, holding 
the left of the line, and the East Lancashire Territorials of the 
42nd Division on their right. In the early afternoon the 88th Bri- 
gade, after an artillery preparation, attacked across open ground 
against a section of the enemy's front which had defied all our 
previous assaults. The attack was boldly delivered, but failed 
to win its objective, and there were many losses among the leading 
battalions. The Lancashire Territorials were also heavily engaged 
east of the Krithia road, and advanced the line at one point 200 
yards. The Turkish line had been reinforced by two fresh divisions, 


and their offensive had only been anticipated by an hour or two. 
Consequently next morning we had to face a counter-attack, 
which we repelled, and which was followed by an advance of the 
125th and 129th Brigades. For the two days following the struggle 
raged, principally in the centre round the vineyard west of the 
Krithia road. This engagement was intended as a holding battle, 
and as such it must be regarded as successful. It distracted the 
attention of the Turks for the moment from the main theatre 
farther north, and induced them to send the bulk of their new 
reserves to Achi Baba. 

We pass to the desperate struggle in the area of the Anzac 
Corps, in many ways the most desperate and the most brilliant 
which Gallipoli had yet seen. The operation, of which the details 
had been left to Birdwood, was arranged in two parts. An 
attack was first to be made by troops of the Australian Division 
on the right against the Lone Pine Plateau, a position which com- 
manded one of the main sources of the Turkish water supply. 
It was in essence a feint to cover the movements of General Godley's 
forces on the left, which were to move up the coast and deliver a 
converging assault with two columns against the heights of Koja 
Chemen. The Australians began the attack at five in the after- 
noon of the 6th, when the action at Cape Helles had well started, 
and the troops employed were the ist Infantry Brigade, the men 
of New South Wales, under Brigadier-General Smyth. The 
Turkish trenches at the Lone Pine were enormously strong, and 
had been roofed in with great logs as a cover against shrapnel. 
After half an hour's bombardment by the artillery and the ships' 
guns, the Australians — every man with a white band on his sleeve 
— raced across the open, and in a few minutes were upon the enemy's 
position. Then began a deadly struggle for the roofed trenches, 
while the Turkish artillery and machine guns played upon the ex- 
posed attack. No cover was to be had, for the shell of the position 
had to be broken before the men could get into the entrenchments. 
An observer has described that strange contest. " Some fired down 
into the loopholes ; some, who happened to find small gaps in the 
line of head-cover in front of them, jumped down there and began 
to work into the dark shelters under the head-cover where the Turks 
were ; others went on over the first trench, and even over the second 
trench, and into communication trenches which had no head- 
cover over them, and through which the Turks were fleeing. 
Others noticed that in the solid roof in front of them, near the edge 
where the loopholes were, there were manholes left at intervals, 

1915] LONE PINE. 243 

apparently to allow the listening patrols to creep through at night. 
They were just large enough to allow a man to wriggle through, 
and that was enough for the ist Brigade. They wriggled down 
into them, feet foremost, as a burglar might into a skylight." In 
a quarter of an hour the first Turkish line had been carried, and 
before the summer night fell the Lone Pine position had been won. 
The victors had to maintain their ground for the next few days, 
until I2th August, against violent counter-attacks, and this they 
achieved with a stubbornness as conspicuous as the fury of their 
assault. The action was fruitful, for it drew all the local Turkish 
reserves to meet it, and as a feat of arms it cannot be overpraised. 
In Sir Ian Hamilton's words, " One weak Australian brigade, 
numbering at the outset but 2,000 rifles, and supported only by 
two weak battalions, carried the work under the eyes of a whole 
enemy division, and maintained their grip upon it like a vice 
during six days' successive counter-attacks." The high gallantry 
of the performance may be realized from the fact that of the nine 
Victoria Crosses awarded for the August battles at GalUpoli seven 
went to the conquerors of Lone Pine. 

Meantime the Anzac left wing had begun to move in the first 
darkness of that night of the 6th. General Godley's force consisted 
of the New Zealand and Australian Division, less the ist and 3rd 
Light Horse Brigades, the 13th Division of the New Army, less five 
battalions, and General Cox's 29th Indian Infantry Brigade. 
The 29th Brigade of the loth Division and the 38th Brigade of the 
13th Division were held in reserve. The plan was to divide the 
force into right and left covering columns and right and left columns 
of assault. The right covering column, under General Russell, 
was to seize the Table Tops, and the position between the Sazli 
Beit Dere and the Chailak Dere ravines. The left covering col- 
umn, under General Travers, was directed to occupy the hill called 
Damakjelik Bair, north of the Aghyl Dere nullah. The right 
column of assault, under General Johnston, was to move up the 
ravines against the Chunuk Bair ridge, and the left column of 
assault, under General Cox, to work up the Aghyl Dere against 
the summit peak. Hill 305. 

At 9.30 p.m. General Russell's column, including the New 
Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade, the Otago Mounted Rifles, and the 
Maori contingent, moved along the coast as pioneers to clear the 
foothills. A destroyer bombarded as usual the Turkish trenches, 
and the occupants took cover ; but to their amazement, when the 
firing ceased, they found the New Zealand bayonets upon them. 


The Auckland and Wellington Mounted Rifles on the right cleared 
the Little and Big Table Tops, which are the lowest points on the 
ridge between the Sazli Beit Dere and the Chailak Dere, while the 
Otago and Canterbury Regiments swung farther north to occupy 
the ridge named Bauchop's Hill. The work was done in silence, 
and, as in all night attacks, there was some confusion. Men lost 
their way in the darkness, for the foothills were a maze of broken 
ridges and indeterminate gulUes. Soon the Turks were alive to 
the movement, and their fire sputtered over the whole hillside. 
By dawn much had been won, including the two Table Tops and 
part of Bauchop's Hill, where the officer who gave the place his 
name had fallen. Meanwhile General Travers's column, which 
included part of the 40th Brigade of the 13th Division, the 4th 
South Wales Borderers, and the 5th Wiltshires, pushed up the 
coast and attacked Damakjelik Bair. By 1.30 in the morning the 
whole place was carried, a fine piece of work for the New Army. 
The way was now prepared for the columns of assault. 

On Saturday, the 7th, at dawn, the main operation began. 
Before we consider the attack of the left wing on Koja Chemen, 
we must glance at the supporting movement in the centre, designed 
to engage part of the enemy's strength. Very early in the morning, 
part of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade advanced from their 
trenches on Walker's Ridge, while part of the ist Light Horse Brigade 
attacked on the right from Quinn's Post at the head of Shrapnel 
Valley, where they were supported by a detachment of the Welsh 
Fusiliers. The attack of those magnificent troopers, unequalled 
both in physique and in courage, had never a chance of succeeding. 
Line after line left the parapets, to be met with a storm of fire in 
which no mortal could live. For a moment, but only for a moment, 
the flag of the Light Horse fluttered from a corner of the Turkish 
position, where a few desperate adventurers had carried it, but 
presently it had gone. The affair was over in a quarter of an hour, 
and must stand as one of the most heroic and forlorn of the episodes 
of the campaign. Of the 450 men who attacked from Walker's 
Ridge, less than 100 came back, and of the 300 at Quinn's Post no 
more than 13. Yet the sacrifice was not in vain. It pinned down 
to their trenches the Turkish centre for many hours, for the enemy 
believed that such amazing valour must be the prelude to a great 
concerted attack. 

We must now follow the fortunes of Godley's two columns of 
assault. Johnston's column, on the right, consisting of the New 
Zealand Infantry Brigade, was ordered to advance up the gullies 


on each side of the Table Tops ridge against the summit of Chunuk 
Bair. On the left, Cox's column, made up of the 4th Australian 
Brigade and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, was to make 
a circuit to the north, and move up the Aghyl Dere against the 
northern flanks of Koja Chcmen, 

It was a day of blistering heat, one of the hottest yet experi- 
enced in that torrid summer. All night the troops had been on 
the road, and the force on the left of the attack had to fetch a long 
and weary circuit. The New Zealanders on the right at first made 
good progress. Advancing up the Chailak Dere and the Sazli Beit 
Dere, they carried the hogs-back called Rhododendron Ridge, 
which joins the main massif just west of Chunuk Bair. That was 
at ten o'clock in the morning, when the Australians and Indians 
on the left should have been well up the Aghyl Dere ready to take 
the defences of Chunuk Bair in flank. But there was at first no 
sign of the left wing. It had been held up by the difficult country 
in the lower reaches of the Aghyl Dere, and where the ravine forks 
had split into two, the Australians going up the left-hand gully 
and the Indians the right. The loth Gurkhas on the extreme right 
managed to get into touch with Johnston's forces, but by this time 
the men of both columns were exhausted, and were forced to call a 
halt. Later in the day the New Zealanders reconnoitred the main 
ridge, and prepared for the great offensive on the morrow. Mean- 
time the enemy, now aware of what was happening, had hurried 
his 4th Division to Chunuk Bair, and shortly after dawn had rein- 
forced the detachments on the main ridge. 

At dawn on the 8th, Johnston's New Zealanders, supported 
by two battalions from the 13th Division, the Maori contingent, 
and the Auckland Mounted Rifles, attacked from Rhododendron 
Ridge, and after a hard struggle carried the crest of Chunuk Bair 
at the south-western end. The losses were heavy, as may be judged 
from the case of the Wellington battalion, which had been 700 
strong on the 6th and was now reduced to 53. Of the 7th Glou- 
cesters Sir Ian Hamilton wrote : " Every single officer, company 
sergeant-major, or company quartermaster-sergeant, was either 
killed or wounded, and the battalion by midday consisted of small 
groups of men commanded by junior non-commissioned officers 
or privates. Chapter and verse may be quoted for the view that 
the rank and file of an army cannot long endure the strain of close 
hand-to-hand fighting unless they are given confidence by the 
example of good officers. Yet here is at least one instance where 
a battalion of the New Army fought right on, from midday till 


But the enemy pouring solidly down the slopes, offered a superb 
target for our gunners. A stream of high explosive and shrapnel 
burst from our land batteries and the ships' guns. In the Indian 
section ten machine guns caught the Turks in flank at short range. 
The attack could not retire, for fresh men kept sweeping over the 
crest and driving the wedge forward to its destruction. Soon 
it slackened, then broke, and with fierce hand-to-hand fighting 
among the scrub we began to win back the lost ground. By mid- 
day the danger was over. It had been grave indeed, for the last 
two battalions of the Anzac general reserve had been sent up in 
support. Of one party of 5,000 Turks who had swarmed over the 
crest but 500 returned. That afternoon the fighting ceased from 
the sheer exhaustion of both sides. We had leisure to recon- 
struct our line, which now ran from the top of Rhododendron 
Ridge north-east to a position among the spurs of the Aghyl Dere. 

Two days later, on 12th August, Godley at last obtained touch 
with the right wing of the Suvla Bay force at a place called Susuk 
Kuyu, on the Azmak Dere, a little west of its junction with the 
Asma Dere. The Anzac advance had been a most glorious but a 
most costly enterprise. By the evening of loth August the casual- 
ties had reached 12,000, including a very large proportion of officers. 
Let Godley speak for the quality of the men. " I cannot close 
my report without placing on record my unbounded admiration 
of the work performed, and the gallantry displayed, by the troops 
and their leaders during the severe fighting involved in these opera- 
tions. Though the Australian, New Zealand, and Indian units 
had been confined to trench duty in a cramped space for some 
four months, and though the troops of the New Armies had only 
just landed from a sea voyage, and many of them had not been 
previously under fire, I do not believe that any troops in the world 
could have accomplished more." 

We turn now to the fortunes of the Suvla landing. The force 
under Stopford consisted, as we have seen, of two divisions of the 
New Army — the loth, less one brigade, and the nth, with two 
Territorial Divisions, the 53rd and 54th, to follow. The loth Divi- 
sion had no artillery with it, and the nth Division a single brigade, 
from which only one battery was available for the first day's fighting. 
All day of the 6th the nth Division was busy embarking at Keph- 
alos Bay, in Imbros, each man being given rations and water for 
two days. When the transports set sail after dusk it was to a 
destination unknown to all save the Staff. About 9.30 p.m. the 
ships, showing no lights, entered the little bay of Suvla, four miles 


north of the main Anzac position. The night was dark, for the 
moon did not rise till two o'clock. The Turks had no inkling of 
our plan. That day we had made a pretence of landing at Kara- 
chali, at the head of the Gulf of Saros, on the coast road from Enos 
to Bulair. That day, too, the attack at Cape Helles and Lone Pine 
had begun, and the enemy's attention was diverted to the extreme 
ends of his front. As the transports crept northwards the New 
Zealanders, on the dark shore to starboard, were already moving 
along their saps, and before the landing was well begun, the firing 
had started where the Mounted Brigades were clearing the foot- 
hills. But at Suvla there was no sign of life, till searchlights from 
the Anafarta slopes, in their periodic sweeping of the horizon, 
discovered the strange flotilla, and an intermittent rifle fire broke 
out upon the beach. 

Three landing places had been selected — A, inside the bay 
north of the Salt Lake, and B and C, south-west of it. All night 
long the work of disembarkation went on. The 32nd and 33rd 
Brigades landed at C, and the 34th at A. Opposite B and C was 
a little hill called Lala Baba, held by the enemy. It was readily 
carried with the bayonet, and for the rest of the night our only 
trouble was from scattered snipers in the scrub. The 34th Brigade 
had some difficulties at A with a Turkish outpost on Hill 10, but 
with the assistance of the 32nd Brigade they pushed northward 
and carried the ridge of the Karakol Dagh. At dawn on the 7th 
the nth Division was ashore, and held both sides of the bay and 
the neck of land between them. At daybreak six battahons of 
the loth Division arrived in the bay from Mitylene. It was Stop- 
ford's intention to use the loth Division on his left, but since the 
experience of the 34th Brigade had shown that the shallows at 
A were awkward, it was landed at C, and marched slowly north- 
wards along the coast. Presently the remaining three battalions 
of the Division arrived from Mudros along with Sir Bryan Mahon. 

It was now necessary to deploy into the plain and take up a 
broad front east of the Salt Lake. The earliest light brought 
the Turkish artillery into action. At first our men heard only the 
guns of the New Zealanders, now far up on the slopes of Chunuk 
Bair. Then suddenly a storm of shrapnel broke on the beaches, 
which burst too high to do much damage, while the ordinary shells 
buried themselves in the sand. The loth Division, in good order, 
moved along the causeway to the north end of the lake, while 
a field battery which we had established on Lala Baba provided 
a useful support. At the same time the cruisers, monitors, and 


destroyers in the bay made good practice against the Turkish 
batteries on the heights. By two o'clock, with few casualties, 
the two divisions — the loth for the most part on the right instead 
of on the left — ^held a line east of the lake running from the Karakol 
Dagh to near the butt-end of the ridge called Yilghin Burnu. So 
far the operation, though slow, had been conducted without serious 

It was imperative to push on if we were to get the benefit of 
surprise. But as the afternoon advanced, little progress was made. 
The intermingling of the loth and nth Divisions had resulted 
in a general confusion. It was very hot, and the troops were 
weary and tormented with an unbearable thirst, most of the men 
having emptied their water-bottles by eight o'clock that morning. 
At 4 p.m. there came a thunderstorm and a heavy shower of rain, 
which cleared the air, and at five we managed to advance our front 
a little under a violent shelling from the guns on Anafarta Ridge. 
Late that night our right won a real success, for two battalions 
of the nth Division succeeded in carrying the position of Yilghin 
Burnu — which we called Chocolate Hill after its scrub had caught 
fire and been reduced to a barren desolation. This, and the parallel 
position of Keretch Tepe Sirt in the north, where Sir Bryan 
Mahon made a spirited attack, safeguarded our flanks ; and, in 
the event of our advance on the morrow succeeding, would allow 
us to link up with the left of the Anzac Corps on the Azmak Dere. 

Next day, Sunday, the 8th, the day on which the New Zea- 
landers won Chunuk Bair, was the critical stage at Suvla. We 
had a strength of some 25,000 men. The Turks on the Anafarta 
heights were, at the start, weak in numbers — no more than 4,000 — 
and an attack resolutely pushed forward must have carried the 
position. East of Salt Lake there lay a wide stretch of flat, sandy 
plain. Beyond this was a strip 2,000 yards deep of tillage, scrub, 
and woodland, and little farms stretching to the edge of the slopes. 
To the south-east there was a gap in the hills, where stood the village 
of Kuchuk Anafarta in a dark clump of cypresses. The plan of 
the Turkish commander was to hold his trenches on the heights 
very thinly, while he pushed forward a screen of riflemen into the 
cover of the patches of scrub. This screen was brilliantly handled, 
and from its mobiUty and invisibility seems to have given our men 
the impression that they were facing a huge enemy force. Mean- 
while the Turkish guns in the rear bombarded our lines and supports, 
and searched every road leading from the beaches. And enemy 
supports were on the road, the 12th Division hastening to Kuchuk 


Anafarta and the 7th to Biyuk Anafarta. All through that unlucky 
day we made sporadic attempts to advance, losing heavily in the 
process and gaining little ground. A whole British corps was 
held up by a screen of sharpshooters, well backed by artillery. 
The troops were new, and lacked that self-rehance and individual 
initiative which is necessary in open-order fighting in a difficult 
country, while there was undoubtedly a lack of purpose and reso- 
lution in their leadership. The close secrecy in which the whole 
operation had been veiled prevented the battalion officers from 
understanding the extreme necessity of speed. General Stopford 
was not satisfied with his artillery support, and the water arrange- 
ments had broken down; but he did not sufficiently recognize 
the vital importance of an infantry advance at all costs when it 
is a question of making good a landing in hostile territory. In 
Sir Ian Hamilton's words, " The very existence of the force, its 
water supply, its facilities for munitions and supplies, its power 
to reinforce, must absolutely depend on the infantry being able 
instantly to make good sufficient ground without the aid of the 
artillery other than can be supplied for the purpose by floating 
batteries. . . . Driving power was required, and even a certain 
ruthlessness, to brush aside pleas for a respite for tired troops. 
The one fatal error was inertia. And inertia prevailed." 

On Monday, the 9th, our chance had almost vanished. The 
heart had gone out of the attack, and we were settUng down to 
a war of positions. Sir Ian Hamilton had arrived the night before 
from Imbros, and had striven to inspire the corps and divisional 
commanders with the spirit of the offensive. In his full and candid 
report, he has described the situation. The general commanding 
the nth Division declared himself unable to make a night attack. 
The Commander-in-Chief insisted, but units had been fatally mixed 
up, and nothing could be done. Early on the morning of the 9th 
an attack was indeed attempted by the 32nd Brigade, a gallant 
endeavour to carry the main Anafarta ridge, and one company 
actually won the crest. But the effort had been made too late, 
for the Turkish defence was already thickening. Our difficulties 
were increased by an event which happened at midday. A strong 
wind was blowing from the north, and either by shell-fire or by 
Turkish design the scrub on Hill 70 was set ablaze. From that 
place, henceforth christened Burnt Hill, the tongues of flame leap- 
ing with the wind swept across our front, and drove us back. The 
incident suspended all serious operations for the day. Next day, 
the loth, the opportunity had gone for good, for the enemy was 


now amply reinforced. The 33rd Brigade attacked at dawn on 
Hill 100, which the Turks called Ismail Oglu Tepe. Some of the 
men reached the summit, but could not hold it. The 53rd Ter- 
ritorial Division had now arrived, and the 54th followed next day. 
On the loth the 53rd attacked the main Anafarta ridge, but failed 
to reach it. That day Birdwood had also failed at Hill Q and 
Chunuk Bair, and Sir Ian Hamilton's great design had been de- 

Something was done, indeed, to consolidate our front, which 
now ran from the Azmak Dere across Chocolate Hill to the loth 
Division on the left. In the latter area we pushed forward a 
little on the Keretch Tepe Sirt, and presently had a continuous 
trench-line across the plain. On the 12th the 163rd Brigade on 
our left centre won some ground, and there the 1/5 Norfoiks, under 
Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, charged so gallantly that their col- 
onel with 16 officers and 250 men disappeared for ever in the forest. 
On that day, as we have seen, the right of the Suvla force obtained 
touch with the men of Anzac on the Azmak Dere. On the 15th 
Stopford rehnquished the command of the 9th Corps, and was 
succeeded by Sir JuUan Byng. 

For the next ten days the Suvla operations languished. But 
it was necessary to gain elbow room, and Sir Ian Hamilton was 
forced to continue the offensive. For that purpose he brought 
to the scene of action the veteran 29th Division, temporarily com- 
manded by General Marshall. To it was added the 2nd Mounted 
Division of Yeomanry, under Major-General Peyton, and the whole 
force was put under the direction of General De Lisle. The ob- 
jective was the encircling hills behind the Suvla plain, extending 
from Hill 70, now in the possession of the Turks, to Hill 100. 
By this time all the advantage of surprise had gone, and the enemy 
position was held in equal or superior force. The only tactics left 
to us were those of a frontal assault. The attack of the 29th 
Division was entrusted to the 86th and 87th Brigades ; the 88th 
Brigade, which had been seriously depleted by the Cape Helles 
fighting of 6th August, being held in reserve. At three o'clock 
in the afternoon of the 21st a great bombardment was opened 
on the ridges. The enemy's guns replied, and soon the remainder 
of the scrub on Chocolate Hill was blazing, and our right was en- 
veloped in a fog of smoke. Unfortunately there was also a natural 
mist which discomfited our gunners. We had reckoned on the 
Turks being blinded by the afternoon sun, which should at the 
same time show up their positions ; whereas the opposite was the 

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case. At 3.30 the 87th Brigade advanced against Hill 70, and the 
86th against Hill 100 ; while on their right the nth Division moved 
against the trenches in front of it, with orders, if successful, to swing 
northwards and assault Hill 100 from the south. The 87th Brigade 
at first made good progress, but the shell-fire from behind Hill 100 
was too strong, and the Turkish machine guns held it back in the 
last hundred yards. Meanwhile the 86th Brigade made repeated 
and most gallant attacks on Hill 100, but their efforts were fruit- 
less. The New Army division on the right was held fast in the 
flats, and could do nothing in the way of a flanking attack. 

About five o'clock the Mounted Division was ordered into action. 
They had been held in reserve below the knoll of Lala Baba, and 
now advanced across the open in perfect order under a devas- 
tating rain of Turkish shrapnel. For two miles they moved 
forward, as if on parade, and formed up below the 87th Brigade 
between Hill 70 and Hill 100. Sir Ian Hamilton has described 
the scene. " Such superb martial spectacles are rare in modern 
war. . . . Here, for a mile and a half, there was nothing to con- 
ceal a mouse, much less some of the most stalwart soldiers England 
has ever sent from her shores. Despite the critical events in other 
parts of the field, I could hardly take my glasses from the Yeomen. 
. . . Here and there a shell would take toll of a cluster ; there they 
lay ; there was no straggling ; the others moved steadily on ; not 
a man was there who hung back or hurried." As the darkness was 
falling, the Yeomanry rose from their cover and charged the hill. 
Lord Longford's 2nd (South Midland) Brigade, consisting of the 
Bucks, Berks, and Dorset regiments, led the assault ; and the 
watchers in the plains saw the troopers near the crest, reach 
it, and then disappear as the first ranks leaped into the Turkish 
trenches. It was a fine feat of arms, and a great shout went 
up that Hill 100 was won. In the gathering dark, made thicker by 
the smoke from the burning scrub, it was difficult to tell the result ; 
but the perpetual patter of rifles and machine-gun fire showed 
that the conquest would be hard to maintain. As it happened, 
the Yeomen had only won an underfeature ; the Turks still held 
the crest, whence their machine guns enfiladed the troops below. 
During the night it became clear that we could not hold the position, 
and by daylight we had fallen back upon our old lines. The final 
effort against Anafarta had failed. The one gleam of success 
that day was on the Azmak Dere, where the left of the Anzac Corps 
effected a lodgment on Hill 60, and enabled our front to be fuUy 
established. On the 27th Hill 60 was finally won. 


It is not easy to see how the second Suvla attack could have 
succeeded. It was another of those desperate frontal assaults 
of which, in the Helles region, we had already learned the futility. 
The Turk entrenched on his hills was not to be driven out by the 
finest infantry in the world. But no failure can detract from the 
merits of the performance of the 2gth and the Mounted Divisions. 
The Yeomanry suffered terribly. Two brigadiers fell, and more 
than one regiment was almost destroyed. Once again, as on 13th 
May at Ypres, the English yeomen had shown " the mettle of 
their pasture." Had the troops used on the 21st been used on 
7th August, the Anafarta heights must have been won. 

The August fighting was the most costly part of the Dardanelles 
campaign. For the first three weeks of the month the casualties 
were close on 40,000, of which at least 30,000 were incurred be- 
tween 6th and loth August. It was an intensity of loss greater 
than the First and Second Battles of Ypres, and, considering the 
numbers engaged, greater than the advance at Loos in the follow- 
ing month. It was, moreover, a fruitless sacrifice, for nothing 
material was gained. We had extended the length of our battle- 
front by six miles, and we had advanced it on the left of the 
Anzac Corps by winning a mile or so of the Koja Chemen ridges. 
But we were no nearer to a decision. Our new line commanded no 
part of the enemy's communications, and it was in no way easier 
to hold. We had secured a little more room in the Anzac zone, 
and that may be taken as the sum of our practical achievement. 

The enterprise, at once so gallant and so tragic, was an example 
of a briUiant and not impracticable scheme which miscarries owing 
to mistakes in detail. It may be doubted, indeed, whether its 
success would have given an immediate decision to the Gallipoli 
campaign, for it was a far cry from Sari Bair to Pasha Dagh and 
Achi Baba, and the enemy in the latter positions could still have 
drawn supports across the Narrows from Asia till such time as 
Maidos fell. But it would have prepared the way for the capture 
of Maidos, would have struck a deadly blow against the Turkish 
land communications, and would have brought victory within a 
measurable survey. It was of necessity a complex plan, demanding 
a simultaneous success at more than one point, and it made the 
severest demands on the troops employed. In fixing the hours 
by which certain key points should have been won Sir Ian Hamilton 
drew heavy drafts on the valour of his men, and those drafts at 
Sari Bair were nobly honoured. But splendid achievements in 
one quarter were not enough, and the scheme was doomed by the 


disaster of a single part. It is possible to detect what may seem 
on review minor blunders, but the secret of failure is to be found 
in the overestimate of the capacities of the Suvla forces. It is 
true that their task was not to be named for difficulty with the 
problem of Sari Bair, but it was too great for their strength, and 
in allotting it to untried generals, staffs, and men. Sir Ian Hamilton 
indubitably erred ; though his error is intelligible, when we remem- 
ber how the original force at Helles had acquitted itself against 
all odds. He was entitled to hope for something from fortune, 
but fortune averted her face. It is clear, too, that the Suvla 
failure was only in small part due to the rawness of the New 
Army troops, for the men of the 13th Division on Sari Bair behaved 
like veterans. It was rather due to the inertness of old, tired, or 
sick commanders, and to the bungling of ill-trained staffs. At the 
same time it is unjust too harshly to condemn these staffs and 
generals. They were men of a good record, who found the work 
too great for them — a common circumstance in war, and one which 
no foresight can wholly prevent. But on Suvla the adventure, 
when it had all but succeeded,* shipwrecked. The heroic per- 
formance of Birdwood's men on the ridges of Koja Chemen was 
nullified by the bareness of their left flank, and by the fact that 
they were face to face with an enemy in no way weakened by the 
attack to the north. The check to Stopford's corps on that torrid 
Saturday in the Suvla flats was the undoing of a great enterprise. 

* Liman von Sanders has admitted that even after the Suvla failure he was very 
near the end of his tether, and that if a further landing had been made in the Gulf 
ot Saros he would have had no men to meet it. — Fiinf Jahrt Tiirkei, 1920. 



August ^-September 30, 1915. 

The essential Russian Weakness — Germany's Next Step — The Russian Annies' 
Retreat to the Bug — The Fall of Kovno and Novo Georgievsk — The Fall of 
Brest Litovsk — The Fall of Grodno — The Retreat from the Vilna Salient — 
The first Russian Counter-strokes — Political Changes. 

The fall of Warsaw consummated a process which began in the 
early days of May — the awakening of Russia to the full gravity 
of the war. From the start the nation had been united. The 
campaign had been a popular one beyond any in her history. It 
had been recognized by every class as a struggle not only for national 
existence, but for the essential ideals of civilization and humanity. 
But the magnitude of the contest had not revealed itself. Her 
conquest of Galicia, her firm defence of the Warsaw front, and her 
bold ventures across the Carpathians had obliterated the memory 
of the first weeks when her unpreparedness had weighed heavily 
on her High Command. The extraordinary lighting quality of 
her soldiers had made her forget how small a part individual valour 
plays in the first stage of a modern war. Russia had grown over- 
confident, and that confidence had almost been her undoing. 

Looking back in August at the course of events since April 
it was easy to discover her mistakes. In the first place, she had 
been holding an impossibly long line for her numbers of men and 
guns, and her Carpathian advance had made it daily longer and 
more vulnerable. The Russian front was not the continuous 
series of entrenchments which existed in the West. There were 
long gaps in it, the junctions of the different armies offered points 
of serious weakness ; and in many parts it was terribly thin. Take 
Dmitrieff's Army on the Donajetz. In April one corps was hold- 
ing a front of forty-five miles, one division held eight miles, one 



regiment, about 4,000 strong, held nearly five. It was believed 
that in case of attack, reinforcements could be readily brought 
up ; but the communications were bad, and little was done to 
improve them. Proposals to bring out skilled workmen from 
England were toyed with and shelved. No attempt was made to 
double the single line from Lemberg to Jaroslav, the chief feeder 
of the Donajetz front ; nor was the railway bridge at Przemysl 
repaired after the capture of that city, so as to make available a 
direct double route from Lemberg to Tarnow. The result was that 
the Russian army suffered from lack of mobility. Troops could 
not be brought up quickly to the threatened point, and each unit 
was in effect left alone to repel any attack that might be made 
on it. The enemy in an advance could by means of his admirable 
railways weaken remote parts of his front to strengthen the opera- 
tive part, but the same tactics were not open to the defence. Hence 
Russia lost the advantage of holding the interior lines. Though 
the enemy had to operate against a convex front, he had far greater 
powers of local concentration. 

Again, the personal ascendancy which the Russian soldier 
had established on the southern front led to an undue depreciation 
of his opponents. During the long halt on the Donajetz the Aus- 
trians kept up an incessant bombardment ; but this did little 
harm, for they never followed it up by an infantry assault, and 
consequently a large proportion of the Russian troops could be 
withdrawn from the trenches attacked. This state of affairs 
led also to a certain slackness of intelligence work, and the sense 
of security which it induced prevented alternative positions being 
prepared. It may well be questioned, however, whether the 
existence of such positions would have made much difference in the 
debacle of May. The best trenches in the world would have been 
useless against the German artillery, especially if, as frequently 
happened, they could only be manned by unarmed soldiers at a 
distance of twenty yards from each other. 

This brings us to the essential Russian weakness in equipment. 
Her total of heavy guns was far lower than the enemy's, and her 
lack of railways prevented her recalling readily those which had been 
sent to other parts of the front. Her field artillery, excellent in 
pattern and efficient in its gunnery, was poorly supplied with shells ; 
and at various times in the course of retreat its munitions gave 
out altogether, and it made no attempt to cope with the fire of the 
enemy. The Russians were terribly short also in machine guns, 
having at the most one to the enemy's four. As the retreat con- 


tinued, even their musketry fire was in danger of starvation. Many 
of the new recruits took their places in the firing Hne without rifles ; 
and captured rifles, preserved as souvenirs, were collected from 
the Red Cross detachments and wherever they could be found. 
Men had to wait in the trenches under heavy fire till they could 
get arms from wounded comrades. In one army a whole divi- 
sion had to face an attack without a single rifle, and the field 
artillery of that army was limited to two shells a day. WTien 
Irmanov's 3rd Caucasians fought their great battle at Jaslo, their 
general at one moment was compelled to refrain from a counter- 
attack because he had only twenty rounds of rifle ammunition per 
man. In the words of a Russian private : " We had only one 
weapon, the living breast of the soldier." Even an army of veterans 
in circumstances like these might have looked for annihilation. 
At any rate its retreat, by all human calculation, should have 
been a rout and a confusion. The amazing fact was that there 
was no rout ; that this force, which had lost the better part of 
a million men in prisoners alone, which was short of every 
munition of war, held the enemy firm, and after the first week fell 
back at its own pace, with stubborn rearguard actions and many 
successful counter-advances. Observers who took part in the 
retreat bore witness to the absence of panic, and, indeed, of any 
signs of excitement. Corps like the 3rd Caucasians, which had been 
reduced to a fragment, still planned and executed bold measures 
of reprisal. The fibre of the Russian soldier seemed a thing 
beyond the power of mortal calamity to weaken. He might perish 
in millions, but the survivors took up the weapons of the dead 
and cheerfully continued. 

But the effect on the Russian people — the relatives of the dead 
and missing in a thousand cities and a myriad villages — was 
tremendous, the more tremendous in that it wrought as slowly 
as the thawing of the ice in spring. There was as yet no weak- 
ening, but everywhere there was perplexity and confusion. In 
the circles of government the honest men laboured to purge the 
administration of its infinite corruption ; many reputations were 
dimmed, suspicion fell upon the highest quarters, gossip was busy 
with all its tongues. The determination of the great people behind 
the bureaucrats was strong; and when in July, before the fall of 
Warsaw, Germany made overtures for peace, she was haughtily re- 
pulsed. The convening of the Imperial Duma on ist August was 
a wise step, for the Duma, along with the Army, was the only 
representative of the whole nation, and it met to renew its oath of 


resolution. The war had already been prolific of eloquence, but 
men were a little weary of words and the old stimulants were losing 
their power. But there are certain speeches which have the quality 
of deeds. Such had been the fiery orations of Chatham and Gam- 
betta, the homely good sense of Cromwell, the noble simpHcity of 
Washington, the grave elevation of Lincoln. Such, now, was the 
address of Rodzianko, the Duma's President. His words moved 
his hearers to a strange exaltation, and rang throughout the land 
from the Dnieper to the Pacific. He drew a picture of the army — 
" the living sword of our native land, menacing the foe, but humble 
before God." He reviewed the events of the year, and spoke words 
of comfort to the patriots of Poland. The war, he said, was no 
longer a duel of armies but of peoples, and victory could only be 
won if civilians and soldiers alike wrought for the common purpose. 
" Our duty — sparing neither strength nor time nor means — is to 
set to work without delay. Let each one give his labour into the 
treasury of popular might. Let those who are rich, let those who 
are able, contribute to the common welfare. The Army and the 
Fleet have set each of us an example of duty dauntlessly fulfilled. 
They have done all that man may do ; our turn has come." For 
victory, he pointed out, a change of spirit was needful in the 
Government, and the change must involve a new trust in the 

The occupation of Warsaw compelled Falkenhayn to decide 
the difficult problem of his future objective. Two courses were 
open to him. One was to entrench himself upon the ground he 
had won, and make the Niemen, the Narev, and the Vistula the 
front of the central and northern armies. The line of the rivers in 
German hands could be made of a strength which would defy any 
Russian counter-advances for many a day. Warsaw, the magazine 
and depot of the Grand Duke's forces, was in his hands ; and though 
it is easy to overrate the importance of any single city, yet the 
possession of Warsaw conferred great and obvious advantages. 
Such a position would paralyze Russian efforts for the immediate 
future. It would enable him to weaken his armies without danger, 
and send great contingents westwards. And it would give his troops, 
weary with three months' incessant fighting, the opportunity to 
rest and recruit. This plan had been in the mind of the German 
Staff during the winter; but the successes of the summer had 
widened their outlook, and they had come to cherish more spacious 
projects. The efforts required to win Warsaw had made the Vistula 
ahnost impossible as a halting-ground. The Archduke Joseph 


and Mackensen were already north of the LubHn raihvay ; the right 
wing was pushed almost to the Sereth ; while in the far north 
Eichhorn was well east of the Niemen, and Below, south of Riga, 
had pressed forward in a deep salient towards Dvinsk. To be con- 
tent with a defensive line on the rivers meant the sacrifice of these 
substantial gains, and the holding of a long concave front. It was 
desirable to straighten out the position by advancing the centre. 

But the chance of a crushing, perhaps a decisive, offensive was 
what dominated Hindenburg's mind. The Russian armies were 
clearly in a perilous case. With Warsaw fallen, the southern rail- 
way cut, and the Narev line crumbling, it seemed beyond human 
power to extricate the centre from the narrow apex of the salient. 
Meanwhile, in the north. Below and Eichhorn were almost within 
striking distance of the Petrograd railway ; and, once this was 
cut in the neighbourhood of Dvinsk and Vilna, the whole Russian 
front must split into isolated and unrelated groups. It was a 
sovereign chance to compel a field battle, in which more than one 
of the armies of Russia should find destruction. Between Riga 
and Petrograd lay three hundred miles of forest and meres, served 
by one railroad. The same distance separated Tamopol and 
Kiev, though the country there was better suited for the move- 
ments of great armies. In a few weeks the autumn rains would 
begin, and in two months the first snows of winter. The time 
was too short to reach Petrograd or Kiev, even had these been the 
gains that promised most. The Grand Duke Nicholas might yield 
them both and fall farther back into the heart of the country, and 
Russia would still be unconquered. But let her armies be beaten 
in detail in the next month, and Russia would indeed be vanquished. 
She was already in an almost hopeless position, with no great base 
near, with slender communications, with her ranks terribly depleted, 
and with her old insufficiency of equipment unrelieved. The fruit 
was almost within the German grasp. One great effort, as forecast 
by the Kaiser in his telegram to the Queen of Greece, must bring 
about that decisive victory, so far unknown in the war, which would 
put the defeated side out of action. 

On the desirableness of this end there was no difference of opinion, 
but there was a serious conflict between Hindenburg and Fal- 
kenhayn as to the means. The former sought to make sure of a 
settlement with Russia even at the cost of a hazard to every other 
battle-front. He wished to strengthen his left, and strike towards 
Vilna with the northern force. The latter was resolved to fight 
on the basis of limited liability. He did not believe in any case 


that Hindenburg's plan was certain to succeed. '* One cannot 
hope," he told him, " to strike a comprehensive and deadly blow 
by means of an encircling movement at an enemy who is numeri- 
cally stronger, who will stick at no sacrifice of territory or position, 
and in addition has the expanse of Russia behind him." Moreover, 
he was much occupied elsewhere. The entry of Bulgaria as an 
ally was all but arranged, and that would entail sending troops 
to Serbia. The French and British offensive in the West was only 
a few weeks distant. He still hoped for a Russian debacle, but 
it must be achieved by the adroit handhng of the existing armies, 
and not by a large and combined operation. Even if the Grand 
Duke escaped from the trap, the German position would be greatly 
improved by an advance. It would give them Brest Litovsk, the 
last of the Polish fortresses. It would give them the marshes 
of the Pripet as a great piece of dead ground in their line. It 
would still further disintegrate the Russian forces, till they fell 
from an extended front into groups, from groups to armies, and 
from armies to disjointed corps. Further, there was a position 
which could be held for the winter, and which offered greater 
security than even the river line of the Vistula. There was a 
lateral railway running south from Riga by way of Dvinsk and 
Vilna to Rovno. If this were held, and the Austrian right wing 
stood firm on the Dniester, a winter front would be gained 
shorter than the old one by four hundred miles, and with 
communications certainly no worse than those of western Poland. 
Again, such a line would give Germany complete possession 
not only of Russian Poland, but of all the territory which Polish 
nationalism had ever claimed. Now, the unity of the Polish 
race had always been the central ideal of Polish patriots. Since 
the war began the wisest brains among them had been loyal to 
Russia, believing that only Russia could give them once more a 
racial and territorial solidarity. But with Galicia and Russian 
Poland, as well as Posen, in German hands, the allegiance of the 
Poles would be sorely tried. Germany alone, it might then appear, 
could implement her promises and give reality to their aspirations. 
Besides, there was the vast Jewish residuum of the Polish popula- 
tion, without national tradition, which might be trusted to worship 
the rising sun. 

Fortune seemed to smile happily on the German purpose on 
that day when Prince Leopold entered Warsaw. Russia had one 
pressing duty before her — to extricate her armies and refuse at all 
costs to be driven into a field battle. Her first business was to 


get her troops out of the Warsaw salient. That meant that 
while her centre fought constant rearguard actions against Prince 
Leopold's advance, her right centre must check Gallwitz and 
Scholtz on the Narev, and her left centre the advance of Woyrsch 
towards Lukow, till such time as she had fallen back east of 
Siedlice. She had left the great fortress of Novo Georgievsk to 
hinder the use of the Vistula for German supplies, in the hope 
that it would hold out for at least a month. In that event the 
loss of its large garrison and its many guns would be justified. 
Once the apex of the salient was clear, the retirement would be on 
Brest Litovsk ; and to enable her to effect this in good order, the 
northern fortress of Ossovietz and Kovno must resist till, at any 
rate, the end of August. Otherwise, in the difficult country 
around the Bobr and the upper Niemen, there was a chance of 
more than one corps being cut off. It was already clear that the 
upper and middle Bug could not be held long against the thrust of 
Mackensen. Behind Brest Litovsk lay the marshes of the Pripet, 
and to withdraw through that area meant a stiff holding battle 
around Brest, for the withdrawal would be slow and intricate. 

Russia had thus two great perils immediately before her. One 
of her armies or army groups might be enveloped, especially on 
the right flank, where Below and Eichhorn had already driven in 
deep salients. Or the onslaughts of the German centre, aided by 
Mackensen's drive north-eastwards, might force her to fight west 
of the Pripet marshes. If an army has narrow and congested 
communications behind it, and the enemy presses hard, it may 
be compelled against its will to accept battle. The extraordinary 
difficulties of Russia's position must be understood if we are to do 
justice to the magnitude of her achievement. Let us look first at 
her immediate task — the retirement from Warsaw to the Bug. 

Ivangorod had fallen on 4th August. To defend it would have 
been folly, for it was wholly surrounded, and it commanded no 
vital route of communication. The guns and munitions were re- 
moved by the railway to Lukow, and only the husk was left for the 
conqueror. The rearguards of the Russian centre were still in 
Praga, the Warsaw suburb east of the Vistula ; but by Monday, 
9th August, they were driven out, and Prince Leopold could begin 
the bridging of the river. In spite of the ruin of the bridges both 
there and at Ivangorod, the Germans were not slow to find a means 
of crossing. Using the big thousand-ton barges, which were the 
staple of the Vistula navigation, they constructed pontoons, over 


which they ran their railways. The main advance of Prince 
Leopold beyond the Vistula began on loth August. It was stub- 
bornly opposed, and made slow progress. The Russian resistance 
in this section was wholly conditioned by what was happening on 
the flanks. They dared not delay one hour longer than the time 
permitted them to escape from the pressure of Gallwitz on the north 
and Woyrsch on the south. Had there been no such coercion, 
Prince Leopold might have been held up indefinitely, for his army 
was the weakest in the German dispositions. But the thing had 
become almost a mathematical problem. So soon as Gallwitz 
and Woyrsch reached certain points, the Russian centre must 
break off the action and retire to a position which would allow 
them to evade outflanking. 

The tactical handling of the Russian centre was skilful, even 
brilliant. The gravest peril came from the Narev front, where 
the Russian remnants were working as if to a time schedule. Gall- 
witz, it will be remembered, had first crossed the river on the 26th 
of July, after crushing the resistance of the fortified bridgeheads 
at Pultusk and Rozhan. He was held in the wooded country be- 
tween the Bug and the Narev, and was not able to force the crossing 
on a broad front. On 9th August Novo Georgievsk was completely 
isolated, and Gallwitz's right wing took Sierok and Zegrje, at the 
junction of the Bug and the Narev. On the loth Scholtz stormed 
Lomza, and next day Gallwitz, moving east between the Bug and 
the Narev, had won a very dangerous position, no less than the 
junction where the central line to Ostrolenka joins the main Warsaw- 
Petrograd railway, a few miles from where the latter crosses the 
Bug. This meant that the whole Russian front on the Narev and 
Bug west of this point must give way. They had destroyed the 
Bug railway bridge, and fallen back, apparently in good order, by 
the Bialystok railway, and by the lateral Malkin-Siedlice railway, 
which was still in Russian hands. On the south Woyrsch had 
joined hands with Mackensen on loth August. Moving north- 
east, he took the railway junction of Lukow two days later. By 
that time the Russian centre was in Siedlice, ready for a further 
retreat as the enemy flanks closed in. 

On the 12th Gallwitz was at Zambrovo, south-east of Lomza, 
an important junction of five roads. His right wing was at An- 
drychov, just north of the Petrograd line. Siedlice and the lateral 
railway were clearly no longer tenable, especially as Scholtz, on 
Gallwitz's left, had crossed the Narev at its junction with the Bobr 
and was threatening Bialystok. On the 13th the Russian centre 


fell back from Siedlice and Sokolov into the profound forests which 
stretch towards the Bug. The worst peril was over, for the narrows 
of the salient had been cleared. It remained to hold the ground 
in front of Brest Litovsk till the flanks could straighten themselves 
into hne with the centre. 

That centre by the 14th was at Losice, some twenty miles east 
of Siedlice, with its right on the railway running north-east from 
Siedlice and its left on the Lukow-Brest railway. There for the 
moment it was safe, but to north and south the position was pre- 
carious ; for next day Mackensen, pushing north along the Cholm- 
Brest line, took Vlodava on the Bug, and Woyrsch was advancing 
along both sides of the Lukow-Brest lines. In the north the left 
wing of Gallwitz's army had forced the crossing of the river Nurzec, 
which enters the Bug about fifteen miles west of the place where 
that river is crossed by the main Petrograd railway. Next day 
Prince Leopold's left crossed the Bug at Drohiczyn, which brought 
it in touch with Gallwitz's right, while its centre took Biala on the 
Krzna River, and Mackensen from the south moved down the Bug 
from Vlodava. Already the enemy was within twenty miles of the 
fortress of Brest. It was time for the Russian centre to fall back 
on Brest, and for the High Command to decide whether that strong- 
hold should be surrendered or defended. 

It is probable that the Grand Duke's first intention was to hold 
Brest and the line of the upper Bug. The railway from Brest to 
Bialystok would give good lateral communication behind the fronts, 
though by the 15th this line was already endangered by Mackensen's 
advance from Vlodava, which gave the Germans the mastery of the 
Bug above the fortress, as well as the southern part of the lateral 
line. But the essential condition of the maintenance of the position 
was the Russian control of the upper Niemen and especially of the 
fortress of Kovno. There Napoleon had crossed the river, and there 
ran the main line from East Prussia to Vilna. Ossovietz would be 
a point in this front, which would run roughly from Brest north 
by Bielsk and Ossovietz to the Niemen. But if Kovno fell it was 
untenable, for that would give Eichhom a chance of a flanking 
movement which might threaten the right of the Russian centre, 
and might even cut it off for good from the armies in Courland. 

The importance of Kovno was even greater in relation to the 
situation on the Russian right. Tukkum and Mitau had fallen 
to the army of Below, whose clouds of cavalry were now scouring 
the valley of the Aa. He was well east of Shavli by the end of 
July, and by 12th August was at Poniebitz, moving towards 

1915] FALL OF KOVNO. 265 

Dvinsk by the Libau-Dvinsk railway. That day the Russian right 
made a strong counter-attack upon Below's centre, and another 
attack checked his left wing on the Aa. But if Kovno fell, various 
awkward consequences would ensue. The Niemen below the town 
was already in German hands. Kovno, Olita, and Grodno were the 
three fortresses of the upper Niemen, and the first in the present 
situation was the most vital. Its loss would imperil the other two ; 
it would make the position of the Russian armies on the Bobr an 
acute salient ; it would give the enemy a direct route to Vilna 
and the Petrograd line. Above all, it would place the Germans 
in rear of the Russian position on the Sventa, which enters the 
Niemen on the right bank a Uttle below the town. 

Kovno, an old city with a flourishing trade in grain and timber, 
was defended by eighteen forts, live on the east safeguarding the 
Niemen, four on the north protecting the Vilna bridge, and nine 
on the south and west. The Russians had no time, any more than 
at Ivangorod and Brest, to defend it by those earthworks in a wide 
perimeter which were the salvation of Verdun. The end of July 
saw Eichhorn's X. Army close on Kovno from the west, and on 
the day that Warsaw was abandoned the bombardment began. 
For twelve days a concentration of heavy artillery rained shells 
on the fortifications, while the infantry struggled for the outworks. 
The factories were stripped of machinery, and the Government 
records sent east, for soon it began to appear that the 16-inch guns 
of the East Prussian fortresses must speedily make an end of the 
defence. It was urgent that the place should be held till the latest 
moment for the security of the rest of the Russian line, and for 
twelve desperate days the garrison stuck to their post. On Sunday, 
15th August, the end was very near. The German 40th Corps 
under Litzmann carried a small fort at the south-west comer, 
and pushed through the gap thus created. The forts by this time 
were in ruins, and on the night of Tuesday, the 17th, the heroic 
garrison was overwhelmed. The eastern works resisted to the last, 
and a portion of their defenders got away. The Germans claimed 
20,000 prisoners and over 200 guns. When a forlorn hope is de- 
stroyed there is Httle chance of saving men and artillery. 

The fall of Kovno — unexpectedly, for it was counted upon for 
a long resistance * — revived the peril which for a moment seemed to 
have passed by. It allowed Eichhorn to transport his army across 
the Niemen and to outflank the Russians on the Sventa, and it 

• Its commandant, General Grigoriev, was tried by court-martial and seatenced 
to fifteen years' imprisonment for his " insufiScient measures of defence." 


put the Bobr armies and the force holding Ossovietz in a position 
of the gravest danger. A retirement on the right centre was 
necessary to avoid envelopment, and no less urgent was a retire- 
ment in the centre. For on the i8th Gallwitz cut the Brest- 
Bialystok railway at Bielsk, thereby isolating Brest on the north. 
That same day Prince Leopold crossed the Bug at Mielnik, east of 
his previous crossing at Drohiczyn, and thus secured for a line of 
advance and supply the railway which ran north-east from Siedlice, 
and traversed the Bug between these two crossing points. Farther 
south Mackensen was east of the Bug, north of Vlodava, and moving 
to cut the Brest-Moscow railway behind the fortress. Prince 
Leopold's right was that evening attacking the western forts of 
Brest itself. 

Next day came a fresh and unexpected blow. The siege of 
Novo Georgievsk had been entrusted to Beseler, the conqueror 
of Antwerp, who for many months had disappeared from the war 
bulletins. The Russian Staff assumed a lengthy defence, and a 
consequent hold-up to German communications. But the great 
cannon which had battered down Liege and Namur carried Novo 
Georgievsk in something under three weeks. Eighty thousand 
of the garrison were taken, and over 700 guns, most of which had 
first been rendered useless. The cyphers and maps were carried 
into Russia by a brilliant feat of airwork. Beseler was rewarded 
by being put in charge of the administration of Poland. 

Brest alone remained now of the Polish Triangle, and it was 
very clear that Brest was no continuing city. The first Russian 
line of retreat had been planned as on a front from Riga through 
Kovno, Grodno, Bialystok, to the upper Bug. But Kovno had 
fallen, and Mackensen had turned the river line in the south. A 
further retreat was needed, and once more the duty revived of 
extricating the weaker and most critical part by desperate holding 
battles. But the task was now of a somewhat different nature. 
The worst salient had been cleared, and the problem concerned itself 
with the manoeuvring of armies so as to avoid envelopment while 
moving through exceptionally arduous country. For behind the 
Russian centre lay the great marshes of the Pripet, which must 
divide the front into sharply defined groups. 

While Russia grappled with the urgencies of her land retire- 
ment there came a sudden threat on the north from the sea. In 
March a German squadron of battleships and torpedo-craft had 
shelled the coast villages of Courland. In the early days of June 
there had been fighting around Gothland and the Gulf of Riga, in 


which the Russians lost the mine-layer Yenesei and the Germans 
the transport Hindenhurg and a destroyer. Russian torpedo boats 
engaged German cruisers off Windau on 30th June, and there was 
an action off Gothland on 2nd July. These activities forewarned 
the Russian Baltic Fleet, under Admiral Kannin, that at any 
moment an attempt might be made to assist the armies by a landing 
of troops on the Riga shore. Such a landing, if successful, would 
have turned the Russian right and led at once to the fall of Riga. 
But, for the landing to be possible, the mastery of the sea must 
be secured. It was Germany's business first of all to sink or 
blockade the Russian fleet. Till that was done any landing was 
the height of rashness, more especially since her object was not 
to gain a port but to estabHsh an advanced base for her extreme 
left, and such a base involved a secure and continuous passage 
for her transports from Konigsberg and Danzig. 

On Sunday, loth August, an attack was made on a large scale. 
A German fleet, consisting of nine of the older battleships, twelve 
cruisers, and a destroyer flotilla, attempted to force the southern 
channel which leads to the Gulf of Riga. The attempt was de- 
feated, mainly by the Russian submarines and smaller craft. But 
on i6th August it was renewed with determination. The opening 
of the Gulf is defended by a group of islands, of which Oesel is 
the largest, with the smaller islets of Dago, Mohn, and Wormso 
stretching to the north-east. The chief entrance, the only one 
practicable for ships of heavy draught, lies between Oesel and the 
mainland, but there is another east of Mohn through the northern 
archipelago. Riga, on the mouth of the Dvina, lies at the southern 
end of the Gulf ; and on a bay on the eastern shore, about half- 
way as the crow flies between Riga and Reval, is the little port of 
Pernau. On i6th August the German fleet engaged the Russian 
at the mouth of both channels. The attack was repulsed ; but 
next day a thick fog settled on the water, and the enemy was able 
to sweep the mines from the entrance. The Russian Ught craft 
retired into the Gulf, while the larger units remained outside, since 
in such weather a general action was impossible. The Germans 
moved in, apparently under the impression that the Russians 
had withdrawn from the Gulf altogether. On the 19th they began 
their preparation for a landing at Pernau, a port chosen because 
it was unfortified, and was on the road to Petrograd. Four very 
large flat-bottomed barges laden with troops moved inshore, and 
on the 20th attempted to land. The conditions were favourable 
only on the assumption that there was no enemy craft near, for 


the shoal water forbade the ships in support to approach the 
shore. It was the opportunity of the Russian light craft, and quickly 
they seized it. The whole landing force was captured or destroyed. 

Meantime the Russian fleet had joined battle throughout the 
length of the Gulf. The heaviest fighting was in Mohn Sound, 
where the retreating German vessels were caught by the Russian 
destroyers. One old gunboat, the Sivoutch, engaged a German 
cruiser which was escorting the torpedo craft. The action began 
at a range of about 1,200 yards. " The Sivoutch," said the Russian 
Admiralty report, " wrapped in flames, and on fire fore and aft, 
continued to answer shot for shot until she went down, having 
previously sunk an enemy torpedo boat." It was the only serious 
Russian casualty. Eight German destroyers and two cruisers 
were either sunk or put out of action, a submarine was driven ashore, 
and it seems probable that an auxiliary cruiser was also destroyed. 
On the 2 1st the Germans had evacuated the Gulf. 

In the three weeks which ended on that day the German centre 
in the East had advanced a hundred miles. The forts of Warsaw, 
Ivangorod, Novo Georgievsk, and Kovno had fallen. Eichhorn 
was menacing Grodno ; Gallwitz had isolated Brest on the north ; 
Prince Leopold was close on the western walls of that fortress ; 
and Mackensen was east of the Bug, and threatening to take the 
place in the rear. It was no small achievement for twenty days, 
but it was not the success for which Germany had hoped. The 
Russian armies had extricated themselves from impossible salients 
along intricate corridors with comparatively few losses. Falken- 
hayn's mind was now less set upon a decisive field victory than 
on the attainment of an impregnable winter line with a lateral 
railway behind it. The immediate German objective on 21st August 
may be set down as — Riga, the Dvina valley, Dvinsk, Vilna, the 
Volhynian fortresses Lutsk, Dubno, and Rovno, and all the country 
west of, up to, and a little beyond the Riga-Rovno hne. The matter 
pressed, for winter was coming. Germany was embarking on what 
she hoped would be the final stage of the campaign two months 
later than Napoleon had crossed the Niemen. The Russian position, 
though full of difficulties, was better than a month before. Their 
line was nearly straight, save for a salient at OssoN'ietz, and the 
great sag on their right, where Below approached the Dvina. 
Their problem was to prevent Mackensen from getting to the rear 
of Brest Litovsk before Evert's centre was clear, to hold firm on 
their right, and to make a permanent stand west of the Dvinsk- 
Vilna-Rovno railway. Ossovietz and Bialystok clearly must go. 


and Grodno must hold out just long enough to enable the forces 
there to fall back on Vilna by the main Petrograd line. If one 
danger exceeded another when all were so great, it was the menace 
to the crossings of the Dvina. If Dvinsk were taken in flank, 
the retreat of the right wing would be gravely compromised. 

After the fall of Kovno the Russian armies fell back by the rail- 
way towards Vilna, and on the 22nd made a stand at Koshedary 
to enable the Vilna stores to be removed. On that day Bialystok 
was still in their hands, and all the Petrograd railway beyond it, 
so that the forces at Ossovietz had still their path of retreat clear. 
But Gallwitz held Bielsk to the south, and there was no easy com- 
munication between the Army of the Niemen and the Army of 
Brest. The latter fortress was now invested on three sides, and 
its evacuation was the immediate problem of Evert's centre. Beseler, 
the siege expert, having reduced Novo Georgievsk, was now bringing 
his guns against the western works of Brest. Next day, the 23rd, 
Ossovietz fell. The fort had held out since the previous autumn 
against repeated German attacks. It owed its strength to the fact 
that, except at the road and railway crossing, swamps stretched on 
both sides of the Bobr, and it was difficult to find positions for heavy 
artillery.* In the end it did not fall to assault, but was aban- 
doned by its garrison. With Bialystok and Grodno threatened, it 
had become an indefensible salient. The same day Tykocin was 
stormed, and a thousand prisoners taken ; Eichhorn's right wing 
south of Kovno was approaching Olita, which but for Grodno 
was the only Niemen fortress left ; and the Russian troops west 
of the Niemen in the eastern section of the Augustovo woods were 
beginning to find their position untenable. Meanwhile the German 
front was closing in to the north of Brest, and the whole of Prince 
Leopold's left wing was across the Bialystok-Brest railway. Mac- 
kensen, farther south, had driven in the Russian rearguards on the 
Bug at Vlodava, and was pursuing them through the marsh country 
to the east. That country was the beginning of the great Pripet 
marshes, the source of the Pripet River being in the swamps south- 
east of Vlodava, only a few miles from the right bank of the Bug. 

On 25th August Brest Litovsk fell. It had held out long enough 
to enable Evert to get away with guns and supplies, and only a 
little com remained for the victors. With Brest went the last 
fort of the Polish Triangle. Evert's armies were now well into the 

* The position was chosen by Skobelev. The first forts were built in 1888, and 
reconstructed in 1910, with the experience gained in Port Arthur as a guide. The 
forts occupied a series of low, thickly wooded hills. 


tangle of the Pripet marshes, with Mackensen following on the 
south, and on the north Prince Leopold's group fighting their way 
through the great forest of Bieloviezsk, the last sanctuary left to 
the ancient European bison. Evert had escaped without envelop- 
ment or being forced into a battle. He had the main Moscow 
railway to assist his retreat, and for his right wing the line and 
highroad from Brest to Minsk. His pursuers were held up by rear- 
guard actions in the wooded fringes of the marshes, while the main 
body moved leisurely eastwards. On the 26th the situation grew 
more threatening in the north. The Augustovo troops began their 
retreat, and not an hour too soon, for the Germans were close on 
Olita. That day Bialystok fell at last to Scholtz, and Below's 
centre was in action on the Sventa River in the direction of Dvinsk. 
The movement warned the Russians that a bid was being made for 
the Petrograd railway north of Vilna. Next day, the 27th, Olita 
was evacuated, for it was hopelessly outflanked. Lying half-way 
between Kovno and Grodno, it marked an important ford of the 
Niemen, and though barely reckoned a fortress in the days before 
the war, it had been entrenched ever since Hindenburg's threat 
against the river line in the preceding autumn. With Bialystok 
and Olita gone, Grodno was rapidly becoming the point of a salient, 
and all the Petrograd line south-east of Vilna was in hourly peril. 
All Government papers, stores, and factory equipment were being 
hastily moved out of Dvinsk and Vilna. 

On 28th August Below began his attack on the line of the Dvina. 
In all the valley of that river, from Riga upwards, there was no 
crossing till the little town of Friedrichstadt was reached, some 
fifty miles from the coast. Below it great stretches of marshy 
forest line the left bank of the stream, and no road followed its 
course on that side. On the other side, where the ground was 
harder, there was the main Riga-Vilna railway. At Friedrichstadt, 
which lay on the left bank, a road reached the riverside, and five 
miles south of it was a single-line railway. So long as the Russians 
held Friedrichstadt they controlled the only practicable crossing 
of the Dvina between Riga and Jacobstadt, and they protected 
the communications of the port with Dvinsk and Vilna. When 
Below moved on Friedrichstadt he aimed, not at isolating Riga, 
for there was still the northern line to Petrograd, but at cutting 
it off from the Russian armies to the south. That same day there 
was a kindred movement on the extreme German right. We left 
Pflanzer-Baltin on the Dniester ; Bothmer near Brzezany ; Boehm- 
Ermolli from Zloczow northwards towards Brody, and a large 

1915] FALL OF GRODNO. 271 

cavalry force under Puhallo on his left. All four armies had 
behind them excellent communications in the Lemberg railways. 
For the past fortnight Ivanov's southern command had been 
little harassed, and, since the campaign in the north was going 
well, the Austrians resolved to advance in the south, clear the 
environs of Lemberg, and begin the attack on the Volhynian 
forts. Puhallo flung his cavalry across the river Styr and moved 
towards Lutsk, while Bothmer and Pflanzer-Baltin pushed the 
Russians from their position on the Zlota Lipa. The movement, 
if successful, would force Ivanov back into difficult country, and 
cut him off effectually from Evert in the north. 

That day, too, Evert himself was being harried east of Brest. 
Mackensen was well into the marsh country between the rivers 
Pripet and Mukhovatz, and his cavalry were at Samary, on the road 
from Kovel to Kobrin. The summer had been comparatively 
dry, and these western marshes were not impracticable. Prince 
Leopold was meantime pushing through the forest of Bieloviezsk, 
slowly and with constant fighting, for it was vital that he should 
not reach the Brest-Minsk railway till Evert had retreated far enough 
to get lateral communications by the line which ran east of Pinsk 
between Vilna and Rovno. By that day the Germans had nearly 
passed the forest belt, and fought an action just inside its eastern 
borders. Meanwhile Scholtz was closing in on Grodno ; while 
Eichhorn on a broad front was moving on Vilna, and Below ham- 
mered at Friedrichstadt and the Dvina line. 

It was clear that Grodno must be reUnquished, or the Russian 
right centre would be surrounded. The Augustovo troops had been 
withdrawn east of the Niemen, and during those days there was an 
immense eastward movement between the main Petrograd railway 
and the Pripet marshes. Troops, baggage trains, and civilian 
fugitives filled all the roads and choked the two lines still available. 
These were the railway through Lida and Polotsk, a single line, 
and the double Brest-Minsk railway. The main Petrograd line by 
Vilna could scarcely be used, for Vilna itself was in danger. On 
30th August Pflanzer-Baltin had reached the Strypa, and Puhallo 
was close on Lutsk. But Ivanov had the matter in hand. He 
strengthened his wings, and counter-attacked strongly with his 
left, checking the advance of the German right. Stubborn fighting 
continued at Friedrichstadt, on the Dvina ; Eichhorn was close on 
the west front of Grodno ; Prince Leopold was nearing Pruzany, 
on the road from Brest to Slonim ; and Mackensen was at Kobrin, 
on the railway thirty miles east of Brest. But the real menace 


was against Vilna, where Hindenburg was making his chief 
effort. If this great nodal point of roads and railways could be 
taken swiftly there might be a general debacle of all the Russian 
right centre in the Grodno salient. The German plan was for an 
advance along the north bank of the Vilia River, while Scholtz, 
as soon as Grodno fell, was directed to move in support on the 
southern bank. The Russians met the thrust with a great concen- 
tration. Every man who could be brought out of reserve, or spared 
from other parts of the line, was hurried to Vilna, and an entrenched 
position was taken up through Meiszagola, fifteen miles north-west 
of the town, on the road to Vilkomir. Here developed on the second 
day of September one of the few pitched battles of the retreat. 

The last day of August saw Ivanov vigorously counter-attacking 
on the Russian left around Zloczow. But next day Lutsk fell to 
Boehm-Ermolli's left wing, and Bothmer had a success on the 
upper Strypa, near Zborov. That same day Eichhorn was close 
on Orany, a junction on the Grodno- Vilna railway, and the last 
hour of Grodno had struck. On ist September the western works of 
the place, on the left bank of the Niemen, were carried by Scholtz, 
and the Russians evacuated that section. Beseler's siege artillery 
was present, but the place was not stormed but gradually evacuated. 
It was Eichhorn's threat to Orany which made the Grodno salient 
untenable. The 2nd of September was the official date of the fall 
of the town, but fighting continued in its eastern environs for a 
day later during the Russian withdrawal, and on that day there was 
a bold counter-attack, Russian troops re-entering the place and 
taking eight machine guns and 150 prisoners. By the morning of 
the 4th the Germans held Grodno, but their booty was small. They 
claimed only six fortress guns, which showed the completeness with 
which the Russians had cleared it, and some 2,000 prisoners — the 
rearguard which in such a retirement is inevitably doomed to 
capture. Meantime, on the southern wing there were severe 
attacks and counter-attacks. The Austrians had crossed the Styr 
on a broad front, Brody had fallen, Bothmer was pushing his 
opponents towards the Sereth, and Pflanzer-Baltin was across the 
lower Strypa, This was on 2nd September. Next day Ivanov 
struck back on the Styr, but his extreme left yielded further ground. 

On the Dvina there had been a desperate struggle for the Fried- 
richstadt crossing. Below had issued a special order to his troops : 
" After the brilliant campaign on the Russian front, and the occu- 
pation of many cities and fortresses in Poland and Lithuania, you 
must make one more effort to force the Dvina and seize Riga. There 


you will rest during the autumn and winter, in order to march on 
Petrograd in the spring." On the night of 2nd September the 
Russians, who held the left bank of the river below Friedrichstadt, 
made a gallant assault on Below's flank. But on the morning of 
the 3rd the Germans attacked the position at the bridgehead with 
incendiary shells, and forced the Russians back to the east side. 
Below had cleared the left bank for a space of ten miles, but he 
had not won the bridgehead for his attack on the Riga-Dvinsk 

There come moments in a campaign when the high tide of an 
advance appears to be reached and the ebb begins. At the time 
it is imperceptible to the combatants of both sides, but the turn 
has come, the summit has been passed. On 4th September the 
Russian generalissimo, looking to the condition of his front, after 
four of the most tempestuous months that ever mortal armies en- 
dured, might have detected a slight clearing of the skies. The des- 
perate salients had gone. The line was nearly straight. The wings 
were hard pressed, but could still resist. The centre was too deep 
in the Pripet marshes for easy capture. In front of Vilna a fierce 
battle was in progress, but it was a battle of choice rather than com- 
pulsion. The Russian armies now were not struggling for dear 
life, but for a strategical purpose. Retreat was everywhere open to 
them if they chose that course. When they halted and gave battle 
it was because they had decided to halt, to defeat some cherished 
German plan. The retirement which at one moment had seemed 
endless now showed itself as a thing with clear limits. The great 
armies of Russia were in substance safe. If they could hold the 
Riga-Rovno line and the Dvinsk railway against the enemy, they 
might yet wrest from him the initiative and make him rue the day 
when he crossed the Vistula. One of these mysterious waves of 
confidence, which men feel but will not express lest they offend 
the gods, passed through the anxious souls of the Russian High 
Command. Those who had braced themselves for the last endur- 
ance now dared to hope. 

At that moment the Emperor of Russia put himself at the head 
of his soldiers. On the morning of Sunday, 5th September, the 
Tsar signed an Army Order announcing that he had taken supreme 

" To-day I have taken supreme command of all the forces of the 
sea and land armies operating in the theatre of war. With firm faith 
in the clemency of God, with unshakable assurance in final victory, 


we shall fulfill our sacred duty to defend our country to the last. We 
will not dishonour the Russian land." 

The Grand Duke Nicholas had for more than a year borne 
perhaps the heaviest burden yet carried by any single man in the 
campaign. He had been called on to make vital decisions involv- 
ing immense sacrifices. He had purged his armies of many 
unworthy elements, and had inspired them with a complete 
confidence in their leader. A commander-in-chief of forces so 
huge leans much on his staff, and individual group and army com- 
manders have a wide discretion. But however high we rate the 
work of Ivanov and Russki, Alexeiev and Evert, it is certain that 
the talents of the generalissimo were great, and the sobriety of 
his judgment and the tenacity of his will were more valuable, 
perhaps, in that first phase of war than strategical ingenuity and 
wide military knowledge. But no man can command continuously 
for a year without growing very weary. The health of the Grand 
Duke had never been good, and it had suffered from the harass- 
ments of the summer. Moreover, there arrives a day in all cam- 
paigns when some relief to the higher command may be of real 
military value. A new mind applied to the same problems may 
work more shrewdly and expeditiously. But the determining 
cause of the change was the resolve of the Tsar to take the command 
himself. Clearly there could not be two royal princes at the head 
of the armies of Russia. The Tsar as generalissimo must have 
as his Chief of Staff the ablest master of the profession of arms 
that could be found, and it is no disparagement of the Grand Duke 
Nicholas to say that as a professional soldier, and especially as a 
staff officer, he did not rank with the best of the group commanders. 

The Tsar in taking command followed the example of Peter 
the Great and his predecessors in the hour of national crisis. Many 
of his advisers, including Rodzianko, opposed the step as too great 
a hazard for the dynasty. Others at court urged it not because of 
its political value, but because of their jealousy of the Grand Duke. 
There was a web of intrigue woven on both sides, but on the part 
of the Tsar himself the decision was based solely on a sense of 
duty. It was a sign to his people that Russia would not waver — 
an answer to Germany's overtures for a separate peace. At the 
moment when, by all the calculations of Berlin, Russia should have 
been embittered against her allies, broken in spirit, and ready to 
approach her conqueror in suppliant tones, her monarch himself 
took up arms, and summoned the nation to rally behind the maj- 
esty of his office. The Grand Duke succeeded Woronzov-Dashkov 


as Viceroy of the Caucasus, a post which would give him a 
much-needed rest, and which, as the campaigns progressed, would 
afford a great field for military activity. He took with him to 
Tiflis General Januschkevitch, and the duties of Chief of the General 
Staff developed upon Alexeiev, who surrendered to Evert the 
group command of the armies of the West. A man of the people, 
and a soldier from his earliest youth, Alexeiev had revealed him- 
self as a master of the traditional Russian strategy, and to him 
must be attributed the chief successes of the great retreat. Shy 
and taciturn in manner, a scholar in his profession, a man of quick 
judgment and high powers of administration, as a staff of&cer he 
had at the moment few rivals in the world. 

In early September the German front in the East changed its 
character. It was no longer a single front devoted to one great 
combined operation, but relapsed into two groups, the Germans 
in the north and the Austrians in the south, each with its separate 
objective. Nine divisions were taken from the armies of Prince 
Leopold and Mackensen for Serbia and France, and presently 
Mackensen himself departed to the Danube, leaving to Linsingen 
what remained of his old command. The Austrians sought onljr 
a good winter position, but Hindenburg still hoped with tha 
northern force to achieve a substantive victory and destroy a 
portion of the Russian field strength. The policy of his cam- 
paign since May had been the creation and destruction of salients, 
and the Russian problem had been to hold the sides of a salient 
till the troops in the apex could fall back to a point at which the 
front would be approximately straight. The plan did not appear 
in the first movement from the Donajetz, but the case of Lemberg 
was a perfect instance. There Mackensen struck from the north- 
west and Boehm-ErmoUi from the south-west, and only by a 
miracle of steadfastness was the salient saved. When Lemberg 
had fallen, the strategy was repeated on a larger scale, its object 
being the great salient of Poland, of which the sides were the Warsaw- 
Petrograd fine in the north and the Warsaw-Kiev Hne in the south. 
It succeeded in the last days of July, when the Narev line was 
forced, and the Archduke Joseph and Mackensen crossed the 
Lublin-Cholm railway. The Russian front then broke up into 
a number of lesser salients, of which the most dangerous was that 
with Warsaw as its apex and the line of the middle Bug as its base. 
By the third week of August this had been safely evacuated — the 
greatest tactical performance of the whole retreat. There remained 


still four salients or possibilities of salients at Riga, Kovno, Grodno, 
and Brest Litovsk. The first was saved by the failure of Germany 
to make a landing at Pernau, or, more accurately, by her failure 
to account for the Russian Baltic Fleet. Riga was not threatened 
on the north, and Below's operations resolved themselves into 
an enveloping movement on the south. The Kovno salient was 
shallow, and was readily evacuated. But Grodno and Brest 
remained points of danger, more especially the former, since its fall 
would enable the enemy to concentrate his efforts on creating and 
destroying the inevitable salient which must presently be formed 
with Vilna as its apex. The troops from Vilna must retire by the 
railway to Minsk, and this line was also the way of retreat for the 
troops farther south, just north of the Pripet swamps. If the 
salient were prematurely cut, the whole of the Russian right centre 
would be menaced, and not improbably driven down in confusion 
to the slender communications of the marsh country. 

In considering the fighting of September, the last stage of the 
retreat, we are concerned chiefly with the battles around Vilna. 
But before we reach that point we must note the retreat from 
Grodno, the subsidiary salient which offered the immediate point 
of danger. The German strategy attacked Grodno and Vilna 
together, but it was necessary for the Russians to extricate them- 
selves from the first danger before they could offer any concentrated 
resistance to the second. If the situation was less grave than in 
the Warsaw salient in the first days of August, it was strategically 
far more complex, since it involved a withdrawal from two adjacent 
salients, the four sides of which had to be simultaneously guarded. 

The Grodno salient was roughly defined by the upper Niemen 
and its tributary the Meretchanka, on which stands the town of 
Orany. This district is a maze of lakes and forests, which offered 
many opportunities for rearguard fighting. Inside the salient, 
following its sides, were two railways — the main line from Grodno 
north-eastwards to Petrograd by Orany and Vilna, and a southern 
line by the junction of Mosty, which connected at Lida with the 
great lateral system Riga-Vilna-Rovno, and was continued to 
join the railway from Vilna to Minsk. The retreat of the Russians 
was covered by rearguards towards Grodno, and by a screen of 
troops delaying the German advance across the main Grodno- 
Petrograd railway. Clearly, this latter line had to be held as long 
as possible, for a German advance across it would cut in on the 
flank of the retirement. The first ten days of September were 
wet and cold, and the rivers overflowed and turned the swamps 


into meres. The weather gave some slight advantage to the 
Russians in the Grodno saUent, since there were no railways moving 
from the sides into the interior by which the enemy could advance. 
Gallwitz attacked Mosty from the south-west, and Scholtz, moving 
by the line from Olita, attacked Orany, as the first stage in an 
advance on Lida. By 8th September Mosty had not fallen, and 
in the north the line of the Meretchanka had not been cleared, 
while the Russian rearguards were still resisting on the line Ozery- 
Skidel in the centre of the salient. The stand on the flanks had 
served its purpose, for, when Skidel fell on the 12th, the whole 
Russian front had fallen back to a line from Mosty north to Orany, 
covering the vital junction of Lida. The salient had been cleared, 
and if we concede the Germans their claim of 4,000 prisoners it 
was not too high a price to pay for its evacuation. The situation 
at Grodno on 3rd September had been only less anxious than 
Przemysl on 20th May or the Warsaw salient on 8th August. In 
ten days the danger had passed, and the line had been straightened. 
We turn to Vilna, where Hindenburg's main strategical plan 
was now maturing. It was fixed for gth September, a combined 
movement of the XII., VIII., and X. Armies. The Russians 
lay astride the Kovno-Vilna railway behind Koshedary, across 
the river Vilia, and along the Sventa River towards Vilkomir, 
while southwards they touched Orany, and held the Petrograd 
line towards Grodno. Immediately after the fall of Grodno Eich- 
hom made a frontal attack upon the Russian position west of 
Vilna, and in particular upon a sag in it between the Vilia and the 
Sventa Rivers, on the low downs three miles north-west of the 
hamlet of Meiszagola. This point, marked Hill 154 on the map, 
was the position of danger not only for Vilna but for the whole 
Vilia line and the railways to Petrograd and Minsk, and accordingly 
the Russians strengthened it by bringing up two divisions of the 
Imperial Guard. Eichhorn, while driving in the centre just west 
of Vilna by a great artillery bombardment, made his chief effort 
on his flanks. From the 2nd onward he was fiercely engaged 
at Hill 154. The Russian trenches were carried by the weight of 
German artillery, and for days the Germans held them against 
counter-attacks. On the 12th they advanced, and after cutting 
their way through the Russian Guard, stormed the village of Meis- 
zagola, and drove the Russians back towards the Vilia. Mean- 
while great masses of German cavalry swept round by Vilkomir 
and Kurkl, and, threading the marshes by way of the railway 
from Shavli to Sventsiany, threatened the lines of retreat of the 


Vilna troops. Scholtz, on the southern side of the salient, was 
pressing beyond Mosty and Skidel, and moving on Lida, which 
place was being bombarded by German Zeppelins. The result 
of the Battle of Meiszagola on the 12th compelled the Russians 
to fall back across the Vilia, and presently the German cavalry 
had cut the Petrograd line at the station of Pobrodzie, some 
twenty-two miles from Vilna. On Monday, 13th September, it 
was plain that Vilna must fall. Most of the stores had been 
evacuated long before, and it remained to release the troops by 
a corridor which daily grew narrower. 

The Grodno salient was clear, and Alexeiev was able to con- 
centrate all his attention on the Vilna problem. Suddenly, on 
Wednesday, the 15th, he was faced with a new and startling develop- 
ment. At that moment Eichhorn's troops were enveloping the 
city in the form of a horse-shoe, running from west of Lida through 
Orany, Novo Troki, Meiszagola, to Pobrodzie. But on the 15th 
the German cavalry masses swept up the Vilia River towards the 
town of Vileika, which lies on the branch line running north from 
Molodetchna junction. Vidzy fell to them next day, and on 
Friday, the 17th, they occupied Vileika. The Russian front had 
long ceased to be continuous, and there was a gap between the 
armies operating in front of Dvinsk and those now falHng back 
from the Vilna salient. Through this gap was thrust the horn of 
the cavalry. At the same time the right of the horse-shoe closed 
in, and on that day was half-way between Orany and the Lida- 
Vilna line. Vilna was being enclosed in a buckle, of which the 
ends were oriented not north and south but east and west. The 
clasp was the line from the river Lebeida, south-west of Lida, to 
just north of Molodetchna junction — a distance of some eighty 

The forces in the Vilna salient had only one good line of retire- 
ment — the railway to Minsk passing through Molodetchna — besides 
the great causeway some distance to the south. The southern 
railway by Lida was still open, but a retirement by it would be 
in the wrong direction, and would lead to a congestion with the 
troops falling eastwards before Gallwitz and Scholtz. The Germans 
were all but in possession of the Minsk railway, and were drawing 
very near to the Lida line. Vilna was no longer tenable, and on 
Saturday, i8th September, the old Lithuanian capital fell. The 
Germans found it empty of stores and guns. All had gone east- 
wards towards Minsk, and the troops were falling back by the Minsk 
line and the great causeway. The evacuation was not an hour 


too soon, for presently Gallwitz's cavalry cut the Lida railway. 
To protect their retreat it was necessary to fight a series of holding 
battles on the right flank. The salvation of the Russians lay in 
the fact that the van of the enemy were cavalry, without infantry 
or heavy artillery supports. All along a line north of the Minsk 
railway, between Vilna and Molodetchna, the invaders met with 
a stubborn resistance. The Russian rearguards fought desperately 
in front of Michelski, Smorgon, and Molodetchna, and by a heroic 
effort Vidzy, which the enemy had held for four days, was retaken 
on the 20th. Yet on that day the situation was something more 
than critical. The gap available for retreat had shrunk to little 
more than fifty miles. The Lida railway had gone, and the Minsk 
railway was in constant danger. Only the great causeway was 
clear, but a single road is no avenue for an army. Besides, if 
Molodetchna were taken, the Uhlans would in an hour or two be 
astride the causeway. 

Then suddenly the situation was eased. Partly the German 
thrust was weakening from pure exhaustion. Partly their closely 
massed armies were getting in each other's way. The shortening 
of their front and the concentration against a salient meant over- 
crowding in a country where roads were few, and to this we may 
attribute the slowness of the advance by Gallwitz and Scholtz. It 
is clear, too, that the munitionment of the Russian armies had 
improved. Reserves had arrived ; there was no longer any serious 
scarcity of shell ; and the supply of small arms, though still inade- 
quate, was largely increased. On the evening of 20th September 
the retreating troops were thirty miles from Vilna, and the Minsk 
railway still held. The right wing of the retirement fought the 
enemy at the crossings of the upper Vilia, and on the 21st drove 
him out of Lebedovo, west of Molodetchna, and retook Smorgon 
with the bayonet, making large captures of machine guns. The 
northern horn of the horse-shoe suddenly began to break. For 
some days there was heavy fighting around Vileika, and a German 
counter-offensive to the east. But by the end of the month Vileika 
had been cleared, and the Russian line had straightened itself 
so as to run through Smorgon, due south to Novo Grodek. The 
anxious Russian Headquarters at Mogilev breathed freely again. 
A salient had been evacuated only less critical and not less difficult 
than the salient of Warsaw in the first days of the German advance 
east of the Vistula. It was a performance requiring brilliant staff 
work and the most steady courage and resolution on the part of 
the troops. How great was that steadfastness may be realized 


from one incident in the struggle. In the victory at Meiszagola, 
where the Russian troops were blown out of the trenches by 
artillery, the German captures were 5,000 prisoners — but only 
one gun. 

It may well be asked why Hindenburg's plan miscarried, for it 
began with all the advantages in its favour. The Germans had 
greater mobiHty in all that concerns routes of transport and trans- 
port appliances, and so could obtain at any point local superiority. 
Their munitionment was many times better than that of the Rus- 
sians. They had the mechanical devices — limitless motor trans- 
port, skilled gangs of road-makers — to remedy the pathlessness 
of the country. The campaign was no longer one of hammer- 
ing at entrenched lines. The only entrenchments now on both 
sides were rough shelter trenches. The Russian front was not 
continuous, but a group of armies, and these armies had been 
shaken loose from all fortified bases. It seemed a sovereign chance 
for Germany to put into effect her outflanking and enveloping 
strategy, and to turn her strategic pursuit into a series of decisive 
actions. Napoleon's success after Jena might well be repeated. 
WHiy, then, did all the battles of the salients fail of being a German 
victory ? Why, save for two days in the retreat from Vilna, were 
her armies never within sight of success ? 

Much must be set down to the tenacity and skill of the Russian 
resistance. For that no praise can be too high, and a closer study 
of the details increases our admiration for the achievement. But 
there were contributory faults on the German side. As her armies 
rolled eastwards they began to lose their initial advantage. Large 
numbers were absorbed, like the French in the Peninsula, in garrison 
duties and in guarding lines of communication. The country 
was hostile, and security must be fought for. The remainder 
lost in elasticity, the greatest misfortune of all. Partly they were 
very tired, for many units had been advancing since May, and, 
though they had occupied great tracts of land, they had never 
received that inspiration which comes from inflicting indubitable 
defeats on the enemy in the field. Again, they were clogged by 
their very strength. Under the best of circumstances their great 
guns and their large supply trains must travel slowly. Hence, 
while any section of the Russian front could be driven in, the fruits 
of the resulting salients could not be reaped. Before their bases 
could be cut, the Russians had slipped out of the noose and straight- 
ened their line. True elasticity could be found only in the cavalry, 
and the mounted arm by itself was not enough. It may be doubted 








if German cavalry reached the same level as the other branches 
of her service. In the wars of Frederick the Great they had been 
the best in Europe, and at Rossbach had performed one of the 
classic cavalry exploits of history. They had failed in the Napo- 
leonic wars ; they had one or two fine feats to their credit in the 
war of 1870 * ; but in the present war they had shown themselves 
feeble in shock tactics, and of little value as mounted infantry. 
Had the cloud of horsemen who swung round the Russian right 
at Vileika on 15th September been supported by infantry, the 
long-sought decision might have been reached. Even had they 
been trained to mounted infantry work and trench fighting, like 
British cavalry, they might have compromised the Russian retreat. f 
As it was, they were checked, held, and finally routed. Speed 
was necessary if Germany wished to win a second Ulm, but her 
great machine could not be hurried. It could strike a hammer- 
blow, but not at the spot and at the moment that the blow was 
most deadly. It could create many sahents, but it could not 
compel a rout. Her method of war seemed to have been designed 
for elderly group commanders, highly trained, aided by a superb 
equipment, but without the fires of genius or youth. 

We turn to the lesser salient — that formed by the retreat of 
the Russian centre from Brest Litovsk. We left Mackensen's 
army — now under Linsingen — marching north-east to cut off 
their retirement, and Prince Leopold just leaving the forest of 
Bieloviezsk in his advance against the Brest-Minsk railway. On 
5th September the latter had forced a defile of the marshes north 
of Pruzany, through which ran the road from Brest to Slonim, 
while his cavalry had reached the Brest-Minsk line at Kartuzskaia 
Bereza. The right of the Russian centre accordingly fell back 
towards the Zelianka River, a tributary of the Niemen, where it 
was in touch with the left of the retreating Grodno army. Mean- 
while, by the 7th, Linsingen had reached the Pinsk railway, about 
thirty-four miles from Pinsk and seventy from Brest. His progress 
in the early days of September must have reached an average 
of four or five miles a day. That western fringe of the Pripet 

• For example, at Mars-la-Tour, Vionville, and Loigny-Poupry. 
t Von Morgan, who served on the Russian front, wrote : " The German cavalry 
. was always hampered by a certain dependence on the infantry. It always 
retired at night behind them. It ought to have been able to arrange for its own 
security. Its taste for enterprise against the enemy's rear and flanks was not great ; 
and when as an exception it did show it, sufficient use was not made of fire, and it 
charged, though carbines would have been more effective." — Meiner Truppen Helden- 
hdmpfe, 1920. 


marshes in a dry season was not too difficult even for a modern 
army, as this rate of advance showed. But in the pursuit of 
the Russian centre the main risk came from Prince Leopold, 
who, moving in better country, with several roads and two rail- 
ways to assist him, endeavoured to outflank the Russians on 
the north. Between Volkovysk and Slonim, in the mid valley 
of the Zelianka, was the ground chosen for the blow. He took 
Volkovysk on the 7th, and swung his right southwards against 
Rozany. Linsingen was now entering more difficult country, 
and though his centre moved steadily along the Pinsk railway, 
his wings were in trouble in the marshy upper valleys of the Pripet. 
On the i6th, after an action with the Russian rearguards east of 
Janovo, he occupied the town of Pinsk. 

The Army of Brest had never been in serious danger, and Prince 
Leopold's efforts were now directed rather to the southerly envelop- 
ment of the Niemen armies retreating from Grodno. He swung 
his right flank beyond Slonim, and endeavoured to turn the Russians 
on the Shara, and take the junction of Baranovitchi, which would 
cut the immediate communications with Minsk for that section, 
isolate the Army of the Niemen from the Army of Brest, and give 
him a point on the coveted lateral Riga-Lemberg Une. In this 
enterprise he failed conspicuously. After some hard fighting he 
was flung back from Baranovitchi, and by the end of the month 
was firmly held by the Russian right centre on a Hne running through 
Novo Grodek, and cutting the Brest-Moscow railway a little east 
of Pinsk. 

The Russian front had once more been straightened, except 
for the curve westwards to Riga. This curve, however, was no 
longer a sag, since the bend of the line in front of Dvinsk was broad 
and shallow. The exact configuration was not unlike a hockey 
stick, with the head to the north. Below's operations against 
the Dvina line had progressed little during the month, and south 
of him there had been a Russian counter-offensive from Dvinsk 
against the northern flank of the great cavalry sweep which had 
for a moment put the Vilna army in peril. In the south of the 
front Ivanov had done more than hold his ground. He had struck 
so vigorously against the German right that he was in a fair way 
to free the Volhynian Triangle. 

His main counter-stroke began on 7th September. As the 
German centre advanced towards Pinsk it became necessary to 
bring forward the right wing, which held the country south to the 
Rumanian border. The German aim, apart from the improved 


alignment to be gained by an advance of the right wing, was to get 
possession of the section of the lateral Riga-Lemberg railway 
between the junctions of Sarny and Rovno. From Kovel the 
main line to Kiev runs through Sarny, and another line to Kiev 
and Odessa passes through Rovno, sending off a southward branch 
to Lutsk. The lateral railway runs from Sarny by Rovno to Lem- 
berg. If Rovno and Sarny could be taken, the whole Volhynian 
system would be in German hands, and a vital section of the lateral 
line would have been obtained for operations against the southern 
flank of the Russian centre. Farther south, the railways radiating 
south-eastwards from Lemberg furnished magnificent communi- 
cations. The chief was the main Une to Kiev and Odessa, which 
crossed the Sereth at Tarnopol junction, and from which a line 
ran down the east bank of that river towards Rumania, thereby 
providing another valuable link in lateral transport. The Dniester 
receives on its north bank a series of tributaries running roughly 
parallel with each other — from west to east the Gnila Lipa, the 
Zlota Lipa, the Strypa, and the Sereth. The events of the past 
two months had forced the Russian left, under Lechitski, from river 
line to river line, and on the 7th of September they were back on 
the west bank of the Sereth, with their flank on the Dniester. It 
was the last river position available to the defence. 

On 7th September the right wing of Linsingen's army was 
moving towards Sarny junction, on the hard ground just south 
of the Pripet marshes. Boehm-Ermolli, with Puhallo's cavalry, 
was advancing from Lutsk and Dubno, both of which he held, 
against Rovno junction. Bothmer was threatening Tarnopol, 
and Pflanzer-Baltin was preparing for a great assault on the Sereth 
line and Tremblova. The Russian front had a deep sag in it south- 
east of Dubno, caused by Ivanov's advance the week before on 
the Styr, and the necessity of holding on to Tarnopol. That day 
Ivanov chose for a counter-attack. Part of Bothmer's force had 
been moved against Tarnopol, when it was surprised and broken 
by an assault of Brussilov's army. At the same moment a blow 
was delivered by Lechitski from Tremblova, farther south, against 
Pflanzer-Baltin. The enemy was taken unaware in both places, 
and in the two days' battle which followed lost the better part of 
an army corps. Linsingen, in the north, attempted to relieve the 
pressure by an assault on the nth upon the line of the river Goryn, 
west of Sarny. He failed, and lost many prisoners. On that day 
the Russian left advanced from Tremblova, swept Pflanzer-Baltin 
from the banks of the Sereth, and drove him westwards across 


the watershed to the Strypa. There was a counter-attack next 
day, but on Monday, the 13th, the whole of Pflanzer-Baltin's force, 
as well as Bothmer's right, was back on the Strypa. Next day 
the Russians had cleared most of the eastern bank, and even won 
a few bridgeheads. Up in the north Linsingen and Boehm-Ermolli 
continued their efforts to win to Rovno and Sarny, but achieved 
nothing. In a week Ivanov had advanced his front in some places 
as much as twenty miles, and had accounted for at least 80,000 of 
the enemy's troops. In the last fortnight of the month he con- 
tinued his pressure, directing his attention to the northern sector. 
Dubno was retaken, and on the 23rd his rearguards entered Lutsk, 
while his cavalry seem for a moment to have threatened Kovel 
itself. He had effected something very like a demoralization of 
the forces opposed to him. Reserves had to be brought down 
in haste from Prince Leopold, and it was found necessary to put 
the Austrian IV. Army and all the troops of the Dual Monarchy 
to the north of it under Linsingen's charge. 

The end of September saw a very definite check in the triumphal 
German advance. Vilna and Grodno had fallen to them, but they 
had not made good the line of the Dvina. They possessed only 
a small section of the lateral railway system which they desired 
— that between a point south of Dvinsk and a point south of 
Lida. They had failed to cut off the troops in the Grodno and 
Vilna salients. Winter was almost upon them, and they had as 
yet found no suitable position for winter quarters, and must still 
struggle through the rains of autumn and the first snows before they 
could find a line of security. Above all, Russia had won time 
without the sacrifice of any armies. There is reason, indeed, to 
believe that in September the retreat was scarcely less costly to 
the German attack than to the Russian defence. Arms and 
supplies were coming in, sufficient to check the tide, if not yet 
enough to turn it. 

Nevertheless no country can suffer as Russia suffered from 
May to September without a strong reaction. Army corps cannot 
be reduced to less than 1,500 bayonets without the nation asking 
questions. The myriads of homeless peasants pouring eastwards 
along every highway, the troops retiring from the front to the 
bases, the endless streams of wounded were a reminder of misfor- 
tunes which gave the most casual to think. The mere problem 
of relief was enough to strain the capacity of the country to the 
utmost. We have seen the consequences of the first Galician 


disasters, which led to the disgrace of the War Ministsr, who had 
prophesied smooth things, the appointment of Polivanov in his 
place, and of Guchkov as Minister of Munitions. But the purge 
of the bureaucracy was not yet sufficiently drastic. At the meeting 
of the Duma in August astounding revelations were made as to the 
extent of subterranean German influence. It was alleged that 
various banks were under German control, and had endeavoured 
to " comer " certain commodities and hamper the manufacture 
of munitions ; that many shares in armament works were owned 
by Skoda and manipulated by Krupp, and that in consequence the 
companies had dismissed workmen, or limited them to a five hours' 
day. Such revelations inspired a profound uneasiness among all 
classes of society. The Duma, when it met in August, was looked 
to for the expression of the national will. 

But the Duma, as is the manner of popular assemblies, tended 
to dissipate its energies. It was given complete freedom of speech, 
and for a httle seemed about to become at once a safety-valve for 
popular feeUng and a new broom to sweep clean the bureaucratic 
chamber. A Progressive bloc was formed, under the presidency of 
M. Miliukov, comprising all the moderate and Uberal elements in 
the Assembly. Its avowed purpose was, in the words of its declara- 
tion, " strict conformity of the Administration with the law for 
the removal of duality in civil and military operations, the dismissal 
of unworthy and incompetent administrators, and the adoption of a 
wise and tolerant policy in internal affairs, so as to remove racial, 
class, and rehgious differences." Unfortunately, the bloc began 
instantaneously to develop a left and a right wing. The right 
wished all the energies of the Duma to be devoted to administrative 
reform ; while the left, under MiHukov, made the mistake of raising 
a controversial constitutional question, and asking that the Cabinet 
should be made responsible to the Duma. A blizzard is not the 
best moment for even the most reasonable scheme of redecorating 
and improving the comfort of a house. The Premier, M. Goremy- 
kin, secured the Emperor's assent to the prorogation of the Duma 
till November. It was indubitably a blunder, for the Duma was 
the only means of expression for the popular voice. The immediate 
result was a week of confusion and danger. There were serious 
riots in the cities, and strikes in the munition factories. The agita- 
tion was patriotic in intention on the part of most of the agitators ; 
but it is more than hkely that German agents provocateurs had a 
hand in its inception. The Emperor summoned the rival leaders 
to his tent in the field, and an understanding was arrived at. 


Miliukov dropped his constitutional schemes, and all parties agreed 
to concentrate on practical administrative reforms. The period of 
prorogation was cut short, and the new Minister of the Interior 
was chosen directly from the Duma. This was M. Khvostov, a 
Moderate -Conservative deputy from Orel, whose anti- German 
vigour in the August session now gave him the office once held 
by Stolypin. 

Meanwhile, as politicd strife died down and as the Russian 
armies drew clear of danger, news came which opened a new stage 
in the campaign. For on 25th September the long-expected offen- 
sive in the West had begun. 



September 22-October 2, 1915. 

The Allied Line in the West — The Policy of the New Advance — The Great Bom- 
bardment — The Attack in Champagne — The French Attack in Artois — The 
British Subsidiary Attacks — The Battle of Loos — The Achievement of the 
15 th Division — Summary and Criticism. 


In September a man with a passion for discomfort and ample 
leisure might have walked in a continuous ditch from the North Sea 
to the Alps. Two trenches, from thirty to two hundred yards 
apart, represented the first lines of the opposing armies. Behind 
the British front there were second and third lines, and further 
positions at intervals in the rear. But the Germans had these, 
and something more. From the day when their High Command 
resolved to stand on the defensive in the West, they had expended 
immense ingenuity and labour in strengthening their position. The 
ramifications of their trenches were endless, and great redoubts, 
almost flush with the ground, consisting of a labyrinth of trenches 
and machine-gun stations, studded their front. In natural defen- 
sive areas, such as the mining districts of the Pas de Calais, every 
acre contained a fort. The German lines in the West were, in the 
fullest sense of the word, a fortress. The day of manoeuvre battles 
had for the moment gone. There was no question of envelopment 
or outflanking, for there were no flanks to turn. The slow methods 
of fortress warfare — sap and mine, battery and assault — were all 
that remained to the offensive. 

The past nine months had taught the Allies many lessons. 
They perceived the formidable nature of the enemy's defence. 
Though much inferior in numbers, his position and his weight of 



artillery made him impregnable to any ordinary attack. Guns 
must be met by guns of equal calibre and equal munitionment. 
Before infantry could advance, a section of the stronghold must 
be destroyed by bombardment. Further, it was clear that this 
destruction must be on a broad front. That was a moral which 
had been drawn in bitterness after the summer's campaign in 
Artois. To tear a rent no more than five miles wide meant that 
time was given for local reserves to come up and hold the gap, 
so that the enemy's front hardened like concrete before the advance. 
After the Donajetz the German plan in the East, as we have seen, 
had been to drive in the Russians in two adjacent sections, and then 
attempt to cut off the salient thus formed between them by striking 
inward at its re-entrant angles. That plan was, perhaps, the best 
in a country where the communications were precarious, and where 
the opposing front was not continuous. But in the West, where 
ample roads and railways lay behind every section, where there 
were no natural dilhculties in the terrain, and where the whole 
front was a continuous fortress wall, it was argued that a single 
rent on a great scale would be the wiser plan. If the German 
position could be broken on a front of twenty miles, there would 
be no time for reserves to hasten up from the flanks and re-form the 
hne. The fortress would be breached, and the assailants, manoeu- 
vring in the gap, might compel a general retreat. 

It is important at this stage to grasp what exactly is meant 
by breaking an enemy front. Let us suppose that an artillery bom- 
bardment has destroyed the first position ; the infantry advance, 
and are brought up against the second. The second position 
is more difficult for the guns to destroy, since it is, as a rule, 
outside direct observation, and can only be dealt with by indirect 
fire. This means that its bombardment is not likely to be so com- 
plete as the bombardment of the first, and the advancing infantry 
will be held up by patches of parapet and wire which have not been 
cut. Let us assume, however, that a large number of infantry 
get through the second position, and confront the third, and prob- 
ably final, position. Here they will be able to do little, for pre- 
sumably that position has not been touched by artillery at all. 
Therefore a halt must be called, and an artillery concentration 
directed against the third position. But before this can be done 
the second position must be fully cleared, for there are likely to 
be a good many points there still held by the enemy. Hence the 
operation cannot be a swift and continuous thing. There will be a 
great dash the first day ; then a halt, while counter-attacks are 


being beaten off, and the enemy is being cleared out of points of 
vantage in his old second position. That takes time, but it must 
be done before the third position can be properly assaulted. If 
that assault, when it comes, is successful, and the final lines are 
carried with a sufficiently broad breach, then the enemy's front 
may be said to be pierced. The troops which get through have a 
more or less undefended hinterland to operate in. They can take 
in flank or in rear other parts of the enemy's front which have not 
been broken. Their cavalry can cut the main enemy communi- 
cations. If we remember that the German Western front was 
very much the shape of a right-angled triangle, it will be obvious 
that any success of this kind would put a large part of their forces 
in dire peril. They would be compelled to fall back to positions 
ten or twenty miles in rear under an overwhelming pressure, and 
with a perpetual risk of being outflanked. Such a retreat must 
involve a great loss in prisoners and guns, and under certain cir- 
cumstances might develop into a rout. 

Such were the elements of the problem which faced the Allies 
in September. Success depended upon a full complement of 
artillery and shells, for the bombardment must be overwhelming 
and continuous. It depended not less upon superior numbers. 
In protracted operations there is always the risk that the enemy will 
fortify new lines behind those threatened, so that when his positions 
are broken, the attack is faced not with open country but with a 
new set of defences. To construct fortifications on the modem 
scale, however, demands either ample time or a great number of 
workmen. The German man-power, as the Allies well knew, 
was wearing thin, and the whole of German strategy in the West 
was directed to holding their lines with fewer troops than their 
opponents. If after the first attack a constant pressure was main- 
tained along the whole front, the reserves brought up must be used 
in the fighting line, and there would be no great surplus for the work 
of fortification. The Allied plan, therefore, fell into three stages — 
the destruction of one or more positions at the first attack ; the 
consolidation of the ground won in such a way as to prepare for 
the next blow, and to leave the enemy no leisure to strengthen 
his remoter defences ; the attack on the final position, and such 
movements thereafter as fortune might grant. 

The plan which matured in September was for the Allies a 
change of policy. Foch and Sir John French had, indeed, early in 
the summer contemplated a great autumn offensive, but the battles 
in Artois had not augured well for its success. In July Joffre had 


decided to postpone any forward movement till the following spring. 
But the situation in Russia, where the German armies seemed to 
be getting into a position where they could neither force a conclusion 
nor break off the combat, suggested that the decision might well 
be revised, and the unexpected improvement in the supply of muni- 
tions strengthened the argument. In September there was for 
Britain a welcome change from the lean days of the early summer. 
In one branch of explosives alone the production was thirty times 
as great as it had been in the end of May. Over a thousand factories 
were now " controlled establishments," and these employed little 
short of a million workers. Many thousands of soldiers, who before 
the war had been skilled mechanics, had been released for muni- 
tions work. The purchase of supplies and men had been cen- 
tralized and organized, every machine-tool factory in the United 
Kingdom was under Government control, and, in addition to the 
twenty national shell factories, eleven new Government projectile 
works had been established. The situation of France was even 
better. The hope expressed in the summer, that by October the 
full French complement of shells would be attained, seemed likely 
to be realized. The six thousand guns of different calibres which 
Germany possessed on the Western front were now equalled by 
the Allies, and the accumulation of shell from June to the end of 
August had risen to a gigantic figure. There was also a very clear 
superiority in numbers. By September Sir John French had 
nine divisions of the New Army in France, and some had been in 
training in the trenches since May. The Territorial battalions 
had been combined in divisions, and a separate division had been 
constituted from the Guards. Of the splendid human material 
of these new divisions there could be no question, and one of them, 
the 14th, had already proved its mettle in resisting a local enemy 
attack at Hooge on 30th July. But in spite of this apparent 
strength it is certain that the AUied Staffs, under the influence of 
the false deduction from Neuve Chapelle, misread the problem before 
them. They realized in theory that a break-through would be a 
protracted operation, but they did not guess how protracted it 
would be. The conception of a breach in a sea-wall still dominated 
their minds, and they underestimated the strength of the enemy 
system of defence in depth. Nor did they understand what 
meticulous perfection of staff work was needed for a series of 
assaults upon successive positions involving new bombardments 
and the bringing up of fresh reserves. Their preparation was in 
reahty only for the first assault; beyond that it faded into 


vagueness and improvisation. It is probable, indeed, that, even 
if the full intricacy of the problem had been grasped, the Allies 
would not have been able to meet it. Months of training were 
still needed before their troops could become a weapon sufficiently 
edged and precise to pierce Germany's defence. 

Champagne and the secteur of Castelnau was chosen as the 
scene of the main attack. The reason is obvious, if we consider 
the nature of the ground. The German front in the West formed 
a blunt salient with its apex at Compiegne, and the corner of 
northern Champagne and the Argonne was its re-entrant angle. 
A wedge driven in there would threaten the communications of 
all the southern side of the salient, and would threaten them at a 
point far from their railheads. If communications can be cut, the 
most effective blow will be that delivered most near to their base. 
A brief study of the map will reveal the main lines which might 
be imperilled. The first was the lateral line, Bazancourt-Grand 
Pre, which had been the object of the French attack in February. 
Beyond that was the great trunk line running from Rheims by 
Rethel to Mezieres, and continued to Treves by Sedan, Montmedy, 
and Luxembourg. Still farther north was the line from Mezieres 
west to Hirson. Any blow which embarrassed these communi- 
cations would cut the direct avenues of supplies from the central 
Rhine valley, and force the whole transport of the Western front 
into the northern railway system based on Maubeuge. If at the 
same time the Western front could be forced back, this congestion 
might involve disaster. Moreover, if the French advanced any 
distance in Champagne, there was a chance of penning the Crown 
Prince's army between that advance and the defences of Verdun. 
These, of course, were possibilities on the far horizon of the main 
objective. They could scarcely be realized in one effort, but they 
might be the result in which succeeding efforts should culminate. 

Apart from its strategical importance, Champagne offered a 
terrain peculiarly suited to an attack of massed artillery and an 
infantry concentration. The rolling chalk downs and their shallow 
valleys were open and bare. In Flanders the entanglements of 
meadows, villages, and all the appurtenances of high cultivation 
made any advance a piecemeal business. In the Pas de Calais 
the coal-pits, mining hamlets, and numerous mineral railways 
produced a natural fortress. But in Champagne the only defences 
must be those hollowed out of the ground. The whole landscape 
was well fitted for artillery observation and air reconnaissance. 
Guns could be used to the best advantage, and infantry could reap 


to the full the fruits of a bombardment. There was something due 
also to sentiment and tradition. On those dull levels thrice in 
history had the freedom of France been won. Every Frenchman 
looked on the chalky downs about the Camp of Attila as a place 
of destiny for his country. It was as if a British fleet were fighting 
again in the waters off Cape Trafalgar. 

But to support the grand attack there must be others. The 
salient must be assaulted on its northern side, and the place chosen 
was the sector between La Bassee and Arras. There the French 
had delivered their attack in May, clearing the ridge of Notre- 
Dame de Lorette, and winning a line from Souchez village to the 
trench network called the Labyrinth, between Neuville and Ecurie. 
An advance thence into the plain of the Scheldt towards Douai 
and Valenciennes would threaten the German lateral communica- 
tions from Lille to Soissons. The immediate objective was Lens, 
and Lens is situated in the flats between two low swells of ground. 
South are the Vimy Heights, which d'Urbal had failed to carry in 
May ; north lie the insignificant slopes around the village of Loos. 
An advance along the whole front might make Lens untenable, and 
prepare the way for a movement against Douai and Valenciennes, 
and even against Lille itself. It should be noted that, while the 
Artois movement had its immediate strategic objective, this did 
not rank on the same plane as the end sought in Champagne. The 
country was too difficult to look for any swift and sudden break in 
the line. It was conceived rather as a subsidiary operation to 
distract other parts of the German front, to prevent rehefs being 
sent south, and to induce some uncertainty in the minds of the 
enemy's Staff as to which was the main effort of the Allies. 

Other subsidiary attacks were necessary for the same purpose, 
and these were entrusted to the British forces. The German 
front was weak in the areas of the projected assault. Einem had 
only seven and a half divisions on the thirty-mile front of his III. 
Army ; the Bavarian Crown Prince had sixteen divisions on the 
fifty miles between Armentieres and the south of Arras. The IV. 
Army from the sea to Armentieres was in greater strength, and it 
was essential that Duke Albrecht's forces should not be used to 
support other parts of the front. To ensure this there must be a 
number of lesser attacks. If these succeeded, and ground was won, 
so much the better, but it was not essential that they should succeed. 
They were strictly holding battles, and it was enough if they dis- 
tracted and occupied the attention of the enemy. 

The early weeks of September saw perfect autumn weather. 


with the clear cool days that an east wind brings. In the evening 
the smoke from the little fires of field refuse cloaked the country like 
a sea fog. Early in the month a general bombardment began along 
the whole Allied front. Its purpose was to serve as a screen be- 
hind which the preparations for attack could be made, and to puzzle 
the enemy as to which section of his line was chiefly threatened. 
It was violent in Lorraine, in Champagne, in Artois, and around 
Ypres, and it naturally elicited a counter-bombardment. But it 
was fitful, a demonstration rather than an attack, and though it 
did much damage it was not intended to be the real work of prepa- 
ration. Much had to be done, also, to make ready the front for 
the advance. In some sections new trenches had to be dug in 
front of the old, fresh telephone wires had to be laid, and special 
bomb stores constructed. The Allied aircraft were busy, for it 
was important that no German machines should reconnoitre over 
our lines. In every week of September there were at least a score 
of fights in the air ; in many cases the German airmen were brought 
down, and in every case they were driven back. In the third 
week there were twenty-seven fights over the British lines alone, 
and only one British machine suffered damage. Brilliant work 
was done, too, in reconnaissance, airmen remaining in many cases 
for over two hours at an altitude of 7,000 feet above enemy terri- 
tory, subject to a constant bombardment. As the 25th of the month 
approached our airmen went farther afield, and bombed vital 
parts of the German railways. They burned Valenciennes station, 
derailed and blew up trains, and interfered ruthlessly with the 
enemy's communications. The " Taube " shrank from crossing 
that frontier of death, the Allied first line. In Champagne all the 
country about Chalons and Bar-le-Duc had been cleared of its 
civilian inhabitants, and had become a miUtary zone where troops 
and guns moved by day and night behind the defences of the 
northern batteries. As it happened, the enemy was aware of our 
purpose, and guessed the chief areas of attack ; it was only the 
exact hour of it that he could not determine. 

On Thursday, 23rd September, the main bombardment began. 
From La Bassee to Arras, and along the Champagne front, hell was 
loosed from thousands of pieces. The German first position was 
being methodically destroyed yard by yard, while by indirect fire 
the howitzers were battering their second line. To such a storm 
there could be no reply, and the long German front seemed bereft 
of life. That night the wind changed to the south-west, and the 
morning of Friday, the 24th, dawned mild and wet, with a Scots 


mist settled on all the countryside. Any section of the front that 
day was a curious sight. All the roads were full of returning gun 
teams without their guns, and long files of ammunition wagons. 
Everywhere there was an atmosphere of stress and expectancy. 
Commanders knew only the orders for their own men, but there was 
that subconscious tension which heralds the coming of some great 
event. It was known to every one that for the first time the Allies 
were taking the offensive on the grand scale, and the minds of their 
troops were not yet dulled to hope. 

About midnight the bombardment drew to a head. Every gun 
on the front was speaking, and speaking without rest. From thirty 
miles off it sounded like the roll of giant drums. Close to the 
front the sound was beyond description. In the misty night 
nothing was visible but the flashes from the guns or bursting shells. 
Modern battles are not pictures for the eye ; they are assaults 
upon the ear, and that never-ending growl of artillery conveyed a 
grimmer impression to the brain than any spectacle. From the 
small hours of the morning, in a pandemonium of din, troops were 
moving into the communication trenches. The great masses just 
behind the front were beginning to percolate into the labyrinth of 
narrow ways which led to the first line. Between them and the 
skies was a canopy of flying projectiles, and when they could raise 
their heads they saw the dark, dripping night lit with splashes of 
fire. Dawn began to struggle through the gloom, and Saturday, 
25th September, opened in a drizzle. 

Suddenly the guns ceased. The instant quiet seemed death- 
like, and smote on the ear and brain with a shock like icy water. 
The troops crawling forward knew what it meant. The gunners 
were shifting range and lengthening their fuses. The first of the 
infantry were going over the parapets, and the battle had begun. 


At dawn on that Saturday morning the French lines in Cham- 
pagne laj' roughly east and west of the little town of Ville-sur- 
Tourbe. From the southern outskirts of Auberive — the Gennans 
held the village — they ran east in undulating ground just north 
of the old Roman road, and enclosed the village ot Souain. In 
this section the Germans faced them on a number of ridges, where 
were situated four famous redoubts — the Palatinate, the Magde- 
burg, the Tirpitz, and the Wilhelm II. From Souain the French 


position skirted the south end of the Bois Sabot, and cut th(, road 
from Perthes-les-Hurlus to Tahure, a Uttle over two miles north 
of the former place. Here the German lines lay on a series of 
swells, the chief of which was Hill 170, with important redoubts at 
the Trou Bricot Mill and the spot called the Cabane. North-east 
of Souain, half-way on the road to Tahure, was the German work 
which the French called La Baraque. Going east, the French 
lay along the south end of the Bois Jaune Brule to just north of 
Massiges, cutting across the southern flank of Hill 171. This belt 
was part of the curious fiat down known from its shape as the Hand 
of Massiges. Between the Perthes-Tahure road and the Hand of 
Massiges the Germans were strongly posted on a ridge — the Butte 
of Mesnil — which commanded the shallow valley of the river Dor- 
moise. From Massiges the French position ran in an almost straight 
line to a point north of the town of Ville-sur-Tourbe, where it bent 
northwards by Servon to Binarville in the Argonne. 

It is hard to present a bird's-eye picture of that strange country- 
side. It is a land of low chalky downs, without walls or hedges, 
separated by the shallow waters of little muddy streams. The 
downs are some 600 feet above the sea, but no more than 150 or 
200 feet above the level of the valleys. New plantations of scrubby 
firs — sure proof of an impoverished soil — vary the monotony, but 
the shell-fire of months had ploughed them into ragged shadows, 
and in some cases left only a chaos of splinters. The country is 
the same northwards beyond the railway. It is the watershed of 
many inconsiderable waters — the Suippe and the Py flowing north- 
west, the Dormoise, the Alin, and the Tourbe going north-eastwards 
to the Aisne. As the Argonne is neared and the broad Servon 
valley the streams grow more limpid, and oaks and poplars replace 
the pines of the barrens. From almost any observation point the 
whole landscape lies clear to the eye. In the coarse chalk the great 
scars of trenches and earthworks showed up white among the rough 
grasses, so that under a blue sky the place had the air of an alkaU 
desert. The German Hnes in Champagne were immensely strong, 
since the section was strategically so vital, and Einem had but few 
divisions to man it. Apart from the infinite ramification of the 
trenches, there were huge dug-outs, protected by timber and steel 
casings, capable of holding nearly a hundred men. There were 
several hundred miles of Hght trench railways. All the critical 
points were held by machine guns in concrete and steel casements, 
deeply buried in the earth. No part of the front showed such 
colossal industry in defence. It was one vast semi-subterranean 


encampment, fortified in every yard with the latest devices of 

In the days before the 25th there was a feverish activity behind 
the French Hnes. The men had been carefully instructed, so that 
every platoon knew precisely its objective. Besides their ordinary 
equipment they were armed with trench knives for the desperate 
close-quarter fighting of which the summer's work at the Laby- 
rinth had warned them. Shelters and assembly trenches had to be 
improvised for the advancing infantry, and in some places saps and 
tunnels had been run out towards the German lines, so that the 
first assault should spring suddenly from the earth. As the troops 
moved forward in their new horizon-blue and the steel helmets, 
which made them look like the pikemen of Gustavus, the big new 
Creusot howitzers, which the men christened " Les Vainqueurs," 
were speaking night and day. On the night of the 24th an extra 
ration of wine was issued, and the packed trenches waited with 
little sleep for the morning. At dawn they looked out on a grey 
and dismal world. A thin, fine rain was falling, and the wet chalk 
clung to boots and clothes. Yet those who had read history had 
a memory to console them. It was the weather of Valmy. One 
hundred and thirteen years before, in the same month, on those 
sodden downs, the guns of the Army of the Revolution had checked 
an invasion and turned homewards the most reputed troops in 
Europe, whose only trophy was dysentery from a debauch of Cham- 
pagne grapes.* 

The artillery for a Uttle ceased fire, and men waited in an eerie 
quiet. Then, at a quarter past five, on a fifteen-mile front from 
Auberive to Massiges, the blue-grey waves surged from the trenches. 
At the same moment, at lengthened ranges, the guns flung their 
curtain of fire between the enemy and his supports. 

The first or " outpost " German position had been devastated 
by the great bombardment. The Champagne-Pouilleuse has been 
compared to a frozen sea, and now the image was just, for whole 
acres of chalk had been churned by shell-fire into the likeness of 
surf and spume. Over this the French swept in their stride, under 
a hail of fire from the German batteries. Plunging through the 

• Hence the song of Dumouriez's men :— 

" Savez-vous la belle histoire 

De ces fameux Prussians ? 
lis marchaient k la victoire 

Avec les Autrichiens ; 
Au lieu de palme et ae gioire 

lis ont cueilli des raisins.'* 


debris of the first line, they left detachments to " clear up " — to 
ferret out prisoners from the deeper dug-outs, and take the machine 
guns which a few heroic survivors still tried to man. These machine 
guns took heavy toll of the attack, and the German artillery 
from far in the rear were " watering " the path of the advance. 
The road was marked by piles of blue-grey dead, but the impetus 
did not slacken. Slipping and stumbling among fragments of wire 
and the slimy chalk, now horribly marked with blood, the infantry 
crossed the support and reserve trenches of the first position. The 
French Hne before the charge had been fantastically configured, 
some trenches looking east, some north, some west. The German 
lines corresponded, so that there were many awkward comers to 
be rounded off. This explains why in some parts the assault went 
clear into the German second lines, and in others battled desperately 
with the first. There were moments of confusion, such as are 
inevitable in every great attack. Battalions were mixed up, and 
junior officers found themselves in command of brigades. 

The most desperate fighting was on the left, where the Colonial 
Corps was engaged with the line of wooded hills between Aubsrive 
and Souain — the trenches around the lonely house called the Epine 
de Vedegranges and on Hill 150. On the extreme left the attack 
was held up after a kilometre, but on its right trench after trench 
was taken, the first position was cleared, and by midday the troops 
had reached the great line known as the Lubeck trench, which ran 
east to Hill 193. All through the dripping afternoon the struggle 
continued, and as the twilight fell it became possible for the French 
Staff to take stock of its winnings. On a front of fifteen miles the 
advance had been carried forward an average of two and a half 
miles. For every yard of front an unwounded prisoner had been 
taken, and nine guns for every mile. Let us follow the new position 
from left to right. Between Auberive and Souain the great re- 
doubts of the Palatinate, Magdeburg, von Tirpitz, and Wilhelm II. 
had all fallen, and the French faced the Lubeck trench, the chief 
position in the second line. On the road from Souain to Tahure 
they had carried La Baraque, and were looking down on the farm 
of Navarin, which lay on the slopes towards the lateral railway. 
Eastwards they held Hill 193, but had not reached the German 
second hne east of Navarin Farm, since the enemy still clung to 
the woods which they had christened Spandau and Kamerun. 
From this point eastwards the position was complicated. The 
French commanded but had not reached the village of Tahure, 
north of which lay the Butte of Tahure, defending the railway. 


They had cleared and made great captures of men and guns in the 
Cabane, the mill of Trou Bricot, and on the slopes of Hill 170. 
North of Beausejour Farm the resistance had been stubborn, and 
no impression had been made on the Butte of Mesnil. But part 
of the Hand of Massiges had been carried, and the great shell-hole 
called the " Crater," and the right wing had won the farm called 
Maisons de Champagne, which stood on the edge of the shallow vale 
of the Dormoise, Practically the whole German first line had gone, 
and the French held parts of the second line, west of Navarin Farm, 
and east of Tahure. 

The critical moment of the battle was still to come. It was 
essential to prevent the enemy consolidating his remoter defences 
and bringing up reserves, so the artillery was pushed forward, 
and all that night of 25th September the bombardment was re- 
sumed. Meantime the French dug themselves in in their advanced 
position, adjusted the captured trenches, and got their machine 
guns ready against counter-attacks. It was no light task bring- 
ing up batteries across that scarred and pitted battlefield, 
but the work was accomplished in the hours of darkness. On 
Sunday the left wing cleared all the summits of the downs from 
Auberive to Souain. The centre cleared the woods east of Souain, 
and joined up with the right of the left wing on Hill 193. The 
so-called " Camp of Sadowa," with great quantities of materiel, 
was taken. Hill 201, facing the Butte of Tahure, was captured 
by the evening, and a position won in the great Trench of the 
Vistula on the slopes in front of Tahure village. The northern 
slopes of the Hand of Massiges were cleared, perhaps the finest 
achievement of all, for the German commander had boasted that 
the place could be held by a washerwoman and two machine 
guns. Some progress was also made against the strong German 
lines on the Butte of Mesnil, which now formed a salient menaced 
from east to west. All along the front, by means of alternate 
artillery bombardments and bomb attacks, the Hne was advanced. 
But the enemy battle position was not pierced except in patches 
too small to be exploited. 

For that day the Germans rushed up all available men to the 
point of danger. The first day they had held on desperately 
against odds, and when the strain continued on the morning of 
the 26th, Einem was hesitating on the brink of a withdrawal of 
his whole front. But that afternoon supports came — a division 
from Alsace, the loth Corps which had just arrived from the East, 
and the reserves of Heeringen's VII. Army of the Aisne. They 








1915] SUMMARY. 299 

were just in time, for the French in many places had won to the 
battery positions. Indeed the whole front was cracking, and but 
for a deluge of rain, which prevented the French artillery coming 
up with any speed, the German second position would have fallen. 

Castelnau had begun the battle with thirty-four divisions at his 
disposal, and had not yet exhausted his impetus. The second 
great French effort was made on the 29th, and the place chosen 
was to the west of Navarin Farm, where the second position had 
already been pierced. Such an attack, so soon after the first, 
could not be delivered with the same vigour. Reconnaissances 
could not be so complete or the artillery concentration so strong. 
Yet for one moment the attempt seemed about to be crowned with 
success. It was rumoured at first that the last German position 
had been carried on a front of three divisions — say, five kilo- 
metres — and all along the Allied lines from Nieuport to Belfort 
there was a moment of wild anticipation. Men asked each other if 
the cavalry could go through at last and ride for the key-points 
of the railways. The rumour was false. The position had been 
breached, but on a front of less than a kilometre between the 
Lubeck trench and the ooppice called the Chevron Wood. The 
gap was too narrow for use. The enemy's guns were moved 
behind it, and poured in a torrent of shell, and all that the French 
could do was to dig themselves shelter-trenches, and cling to the 
position under a heavy enfilading fire. With this action the main 
operations closed. 

The Battle of Champagne was the greatest of the Allied attempts 
to break the enemy front by a single crashing blow. It was within 
limits a success, for the French took more guns and prisoners than 
Napoleon had taken at Jena or Austerlitz — 150 of the one and 
25,000 of the other — and therein it had its value for the moral of 
the nation. But it failed conspicuously in its chief purpose, and 
it showed no tactical ingenuity or strategic subtlety. The Germans 
knew the French aim and the French methods ; Castelnau knew 
with equal clearness the German modes of defence. The situa- 
tion was that of the siege of a fortress — a straightforward trial of 
strength. Both sides were fairly matched, if we allow the intricacy 
of the German defences to balance the greater numbers of the 
French troops. In a struggle between forces approximately equal 
it is luck which turns the scale. A little extra good fortune — a 
weakening at a vital point, an unexpected celerity in the handling 
of guns, any one of those thousand chances which may happen in 
action- -would have taken Castelnau through the German front. 


He had the right to hope for such fortune, but it did not come. 
For a moment it looked as if the game were won, but the defence 
was too strong to fall at the first attack ; the Allies must still 
sit down in front of the fort and prepare for the next assault. 
They had learned one lesson of the uttermost value — that fortune 
could not be trusted to favour an ambitious offensive, and that 
the crumbling of the defence demanded a more elaborate prepara- 
tion and more patient tactics. 

It is well to remember what such fighting meant for the men 
engaged in it — both attackers and attacked. In other battles 
there had been advances under desperate fire, but they had been 
short, and had been cheered by the hope of a rout and a pursuit. 
But this warfare involved an endless procession under the heaviest 
shelling known to history. When one trench was cleared another 
awaited, and there was no respite for a second from the tornado 
of the defence's fire. We praise the elan of the Napoleonic armies, 
but what degree of courage and vigour was needed to drive forward 
an assault which could not lead to the rout of the enemy, but only 
pave the way for another desperate attack, and still another ? 
So too with the German defence, to which Falkenhayn's tribute 
is not too high.* We praise the discipline of those marvellous 
armies of the eighteenth century, with their inhuman steadiness 
under fire. There was Marlborough's attack on the Schellenberg, 
when he lost in one hour more than a third of his men, and the 
Guards had twelve officers down out of seventeen. There was 
the great attack by Cutts's left on Blenheim village, when Row 
led his men steadily up under the French volleys till he tapped 
the palisade with his sword. Most famous case of all, there was 
the advance of Cumberland's centre at Fontenoy, up to within fifty 
yards of the French guard, when Lord Charles Hay toasted the 
enemy, and the British looked coolly at a row of muzzles till the 
order came for their volley. Or, to take an instance from the 
end of the old regime, there were the Prussian infantry who, on 
the day of Jena, faced Lannes at the village of Vierzehnheiligen, 
and for two hours stood dressed in Une volleying at sheltered 
enemies, because such were their orders. That discipline was 
equalled, nay surpassed, by the troops who pushed from trench 
to trench in the mire and rain of the Champagne battle, and by 
those who withstood them. 

General Headquarters 1914-16 (Eng. trans.), p. 173. 



The attack in the north which was launched on the 25th of 
September was a movement subsidiary to the great effort in Cham- 
pagne. While it was under the general direction of Foch, the details 
were left to two different commands — the French Tenth Army and 
the British First and Second Armies. There was a smaller con- 
centration of men and guns than in the south, and inevitably 
there was less co-ordination in the parts. We may divide it into 
two main operations — d'Urbal's attack upon the Vimy Heights 
and the advance of the British First Army against the line La 
Bassee-Haisnes-Hulluch-Loos. Both had the same purpose — to 
isolate the railway junction of Lens and open the road into the 
plain of the Scheldt. In addition, four attacks were undertaken 
north of the La Bassee Canal — one by the British 2nd Division 
from Givenchy ; one by the Indian Corps from Neuve Chapelle ; 
one by the 3rd Corps from Bois Grenier ; and one by the 5th 
Corps in the south of the Ypres Salient. These were secondary 
attacks, designed to distract the attention of certain parts of the 
German front ; and the fact that the Artois attack was not the 
main movement of the Allies was partly responsible for certain 
misfortunes in the handling of the troops. For what happened 
was that by accident the British force did find a real weakness in 
one section of the German front, and, had it been a major opera- 
tion and the plans laid accordingly, a comprehensive disaster 
might have overtaken the enemy in the north. But for this 
success they were not prepared. Reserves were not ready in time, 
or in sufficient strength. The lesser gain which they had antici- 
pated was secured, the greater success slipped from hands un- 
prepared to receive it. It was the kind of misfortune which is 
frequent in an assault upon a long front, and it was made almost 
inevitable by the fact that the British army formed a quasi-inde- 
pendent command. In spite of the closest and most cordial 
relations, operations controlled by two separate staffs, differing 
in quality and methods, are not likely to reach complete co-ordina- 
tion or a uniform strength at every point. 

In considering the complex fighting along a front of nearly 
fifty miles, it wUl be well to deal first with the doings of the French 
Tenth Army, which had a clear objective in a self-contained 
terrain ; then to consider the various holding battles fought 
north of the La Bassee Canal ; and lastly, to describe in some 


detail the great movement which captured Loos, and for a moment 
shook the whole German northern front. 

D'Urbal's Tenth Army, which had been increased to eighteen 
divisions, on the morning of 25th September held a line from the 
British right at Grenay, past Aix Noulette, to the west side of 
Souchez village. Thence it ran just east of Neuville St. Vaast 
into that tangle of trenches between the roads from Arras to La 
Bassee and to Lens which was known as the Labyrinth. The old 
Labyrinth had been long ago in French hands ; but since May 
it had extended itself, and some of the eastern trenches up to the 
Lens road were held by the Germans. The aim of the attack 
was the same as that of the battles of the early summer. East of 
Souchez a tiny river of the same name ran among meadows. On 
the west bank was a coppice called the Bois de Hache, and across 
the stream a little to the south a larger woodland, called the Wood 
of Givenchy. Just east of the trees lay the village of Givenchy- 
en-Gohelle, at the junction of several roads ; and south and west 
were the slopes of the Vimy Heights. These were not high — the 
flat top was j ust over 400 feet — but they commanded Vimy station 
and the railway between Lens and Arras, and gave a prospect 
over rolling slopes away to the valley of the Scarpe. One other 
point must be noted. On the southern slope, looking over the 
Labyrinth, lay the village of Thelus. From Souchez to Thelus 
the Heights of Vimy stretched roughly in the shape of a half- 

The French bombardment had been heavy for three weeks. 
Early on the morning of 25th September it stopped. The Germans, 
expecting an infantry attack, manned what was left of their front 
trenches, but no infantry came. Instead, the French turned their 
75's on the first line, and caused great slaughter. Once again the 
bombardment began, and the British troops, fighting at Loos, 
could see nothing in the south but a pall of smoke torn by flashes 
of fire. For some reason not yet clear the French infantry attack 
did not begin till one o'clock, seven hours after the British in the 
north had gone over their parapets. Seven mines were exploded 
at the same moment along the enemy's front, and under cover of 
the cloud of dust the French sprang from their trenches. The 
bombardment had done its work, but the position was still strong. 
There were three German lines west of the Souchez stream ; and 
the remnants of the village, where no house was left standing, 
were held by machine guns in the cellars. The first trench was 
cleared, and on the French left the Germans were driven into the 

(September 1916) 




from thr 

and west 
• 'i—the 

a pT' 

over tb- 

;>eir front 

Uii , a.iU: 

iliiO lil 

OMOj".' OTJ .j>:- /«4«M OnT 


little Bois de Hache. The second trench was in the wood, and 
this and the third Hne, on the west bank of the stream, were 
quickly taken. Then came a counter-attack, heralded by a heavy 
bombardment, and conducted by troops in close formation, armed 
with grenades. Far into the misty twilight the struggle went on, 
and just at the darkness the enemy was pushed back across the 
river. In front of Souchez the centre prospered less. The ceme- 
tery was taken, but no impression could be made on the village 
itself. On their right the French took the last trenches of the 
Labyrinth, and so cleared that death-trap. Night fell on an 
inconclusive battle. Much had been won, but the attack was 
still far from the Heights of Vimy. 

Next morning' the weather had cleared. A strong west wind 
and a bright sky attended the second phase of the contest. On 
that day the British in the north were being heavily counter- 
attacked, and since the enemy at the moment had insufficient 
reserves to meet two strong attacks on adjoining sectors at the 
same time, the French won considerable successes. On their 
right they gained a position north of Thelus, on the lower slopes 
of Vimy. On their left the chasseurs carried the line of the 
Souchez River, crossing the water by means of planks left by the 
Germans, under a devastating artillery fire. With the bayonet 
they took the German trench on the east bank, and charged into 
the Wood of Givenchy, now little more than a mass of splinters. 
Here there was heavy fighting, the chasseurs sheltering behind 
tree-stumps and in shell-holes, and bombing their way yard by 
yard. By the evening they had won the greater part of the wood, 
and were well up the north-west side of the Vimy slopes. That 
day, too, the centre carried Souchez village, and ferreted some 700 
Germans out of the cellars. 

On Monday, the 27th, the French were busy reorganizing and 
consolidating their front. On Tuesday, a cold, grey day, they 
began their final movement against the Heights. The Germans 
had received reinforcements, including divisions of the Guards 
which had just arrived from Russia. The French guns played on 
the slopes, and the French line fought its way foot by foot up 
the terraced and honeycombed hillside. But by Wednesday 
morning the Vimy Heights had not been won. The French posi- 
tion was well short of the crest, though the western slopes and 
most of the Givenchy Wood were in their hands. The situation 
to the north made it necessary to hold back for the present. The 
British line was very thin, and it had extended east of Loos in a 


deep salient beyond the French ahgnment, so that its right flank 
was to some extent in the air. Joffre accordingly requested Foch 
to strengthen the British front by taking over the south side of 
that salient. The 9th Corps was sent to Loos ; and by the first 
days of October, French forces composed the pincers menacing 
Lens from north and south. The change, apart from the relief 
it afforded to the British front, was in itself desirable. If a 
" pinching " movement against Lens was to be undertaken, it 
was expedient that it should be under a single command. 

In considering the various minor actions on the British front, 
we may begin with that fought in the Ypres Salient. The Hooge 
fighting of August had brought the British line on the south side of 
the Salient to a point west of the Bellewaarde Lake, then east of 
the shell-hole called the Crater, whence it ran south of the high- 
road into Sanctuary Wood, at the northern corner of which was a 
dangerous German fortin. The whole Ypres region was strongly 
held by the enemy. From there, if from anywhere, reinforcements 
could be sent south ; and it was essential to detain the left wing 
of the Duke of Wiirtemberg's command. The British attack was 
entrusted to Allenby's 5th Corps, which for the purpose borrowed 
the 14th Division from the 6th Corps. All day on the 24th Ypres 
was heavily shelled ; but Ypres was no longer the neck of the 
bottle: we had other ways of bringing up troops and supports 
to the Sahent, and the bombardment of the ruined city did little 
harm. At four o'clock on the morning of the 25th we began our 
final bombardment of the Hooge trenches. At 4.30 we exploded 
a mine north of the road, and a few minutes later the attack was 
launched by the 3rd Division on the right and the 14th Division 
on the left. On the left we were attacking Bellewaarde Farm, and 
on our right moving towards the fortress in the north of Sanctuary 

The Germans, except in the area of the exploded mine, were 
not taken by surprise. They had looked for an attack in the 
Salient, and the bombardment of their right wing on the coast by 
a squadron of the British fleet under Admiral Bacon seems to 
have convinced them that here the main British effort was to be 
made. When the assault began they hurried up reserves from 
their front farther south, thereby assisting the Allied purpose. 
But no forewarning enabled them to support the shock of the 
British infantry. Presently the whole of their first line gave 
way. Bellewaarde Farm and the ridge on which it stood were 
carried, and south of the Menin road we advanced for 600 yards. 


But gains in the Ypres Salient were hard to hold. The big guns 
from the Passchendaele ridge and from the neighbourhood of 
Hill 60 on the south came into play against our new front. More- 
over the Germans had a far greater artillery concentration behind 
their lines. The Bellewaarde ridge could not be maintained, and 
long before the evening our left was driven back to its old line. 
But south of the highway we clung to some of the ground we 
had won, and managed to consolidate our position. It may fairly 
be said that the thrust at Hooge fulfilled its purpose. We had 
occupied the attention of several German corps while greater 
matters were in progress in the south. 

The second of the minor operations was that undertaken by 
Pulteney's 3rd Corps. Its front before and south-west of Ar- 
mentieres was held from left to right by the 27th Division, 
the 8th Division, and the 20th Division of the New Army. The 
attack in this section was made by the 8th Division, the division 
which had fought at Neuve ChapcUe, and had attacked at Fro- 
melles on the 9th of May. It moved from in front of Bois 
Grenier against the German trenches. The attack was timed 
to begin before dawn at 4.30 a.m. on the 25th, after the usual 
bombardment. The first charge went well, save at a point 
in the centre where a German searchlight revealed the move- 
ment, and one unit was held up by a deadly fire from machine 
guns. Except at this point the whole German first line was 
carried ; and by six o'clock a large part of the second line was 
taken, when the guns lengthened their range and played on the 
enemy's third line. By this time the Germans were recovering 
from the first shock, and a strong counter-attack with bombs was 
delivered. Our advance had been uneven, and while the wings 
were far forward the German centre formed a wedge which exposed 
us to enfilading fire, and checked effective communication between 
our units. By three o'clock in the afternoon the action was 
closed, for it had abundantly achieved its object. Our troops 
were withdrawn in perfect order, and, thanks to the heroism of the 
stretcher-bearers, all our wounded were safely brought in. This 
affair was a model of what a holding battle should be — an advance 
not pushed beyond the possibility of an orderly retirement, but 
conducted with sufficient vigour to absorb the whole energies of 
the immediate enemy front. 

The third operation, which took place just north of Neuve 
Chapelle, was less successful. At this time the Indian Corps held 
the Une from Fauquissart through Neuve Chapelle to the neigh- 


bourhood of Festubert. It had on its left the 20th Division of 
the 3rd Corps, and it Hnked up on its right with the 2nd Division 
of the ist Corps at Givenchy, The main movement on the 25th 
of September was to be that of its left, the Meerut Division, whose 
Hne ran roughly from a little east of Fauquissart to the place 
called the Duck's Bill, north-east of Neuve Chapelle village. In 
front of it lay the Moulin du Pietre, for which we had struggled 
fruitlessly on the second day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. 
A thousand yards beyond that point was the first swell of the 
Aubers ridge, the village of Aubers being about a mile and three- 
quarters from the British lines. At dawn there was an elaborate 
artillery bombardment on the section of attack. The Meerut 
Division loosed a cloud of gas, but in the mist and drizzle, with 
only a light wind behind it, the gas clung to the ground ; and when 
the Bareilly and Garhwal Brigades went over their parapets, 
they suffered from it in spite of their helmets. 

The latter brigade came against uncut wire, but the former 
was brilliantly successful. In its first rush it took successive lines 
of German trenches, and pressed on towards the Aubers slopes. 
It did not follow the French practice of leaving clearing parties to 
occupy the captured positions, but, assuming that supports would 
follow and perform that task, it raced impetuously into the mist 
and disappeared from the ken of the British front. Then followed 
a strange situation. The Germans reoccupied the trenches in the 
rear of the attacking brigade, and bombed it from behind. 
There was no adequate support from our heavy artillery, most of 
its ammunition having been expended in the preliminary bombard- 
ment. In the foggy weather, made thicker by the fumes of gas 
and lyddite and asphyxiating shells, men lost their way, orders 
miscarried, and all morning there was a wild confusion. A 
German counter-attack drove in the line of the 20th Division on 
the left, and thereby exposed the flank of the attack. The Dehra 
Dun Brigade, the reserve of the Meerut Division, owing to the 
congested state of the communication trenches, could not get up 
in time. All day there was a curious stillness, broken only by 
intermittent firing from the Moulin du Pietre region. The attack 
had vanished, and the whole plan of operations had dissolved. 
Much of the blame must be attributed to the weather and the 
difficult conditions of the attack, but there must have been some 
defect in the co-ordination of the movement to make so whole- 
sale a confusion possible. Meanwhile, the devoted brigades were 
fighting a hopeless battle inside the enemy's lines. Their impetus, 

1915] THEIR RESULT. 307 

which with adequate support might have carried the Aubers 
ridge, ebbed under the encircHng counter-attacks. Nothing was 
left but to fight their way back. This they achieved with many 
casualties. The Bareilly Brigade came out 1,600 strong. Its 
two British battaUons, the 2nd and 4th Black Watch, which had 
advanced with the pipes playing, were so reduced that they had 
to be amalgamated. The remnant of the 2nd Leicesters, one of 
the hardest-fighting units in the Army, did not return till the 
following day. A tribute should be paid to the splendid quality 
of the British battalions in the Indian Corps. In the battle of 
December 19-22, 1914, at Neuve Chapelle, and in the fierce struggle 
of 9th May, they had acquitted themselves like heroes, and again 
and again redeemed a lost situation. On 25th September they 
showed their old prowess, but on a fruitless field. The affair — 
whether by malign conditions or by a defect in leadership — had 
been too costly to rank as a legitimate holding battle. 

The fourth of the minor actions was fought by troops of the 
2nd Division, assisted by part of the 19th Division, in front and 
south of Givenchy. So far as terrain was concerned, it was 
the most vital, for the great thrust was being made south of La 
Bassee ; and, if the movement on the north succeeded. La Bassee 
would be enclosed between two fires. But the Givenchy district, 
as we knew from bitter experience, with its brickfields and Hues 
of railway and canal, was one of the strongest fortresses in the 
German front. In this fine action some advance was made, and 
part of the German first Hne was occupied ; but since no reserves 
were available, our gains had to be relinquished before the evening. 
Yet the movement had effected its purpose. It had detained con- 
siderable German forces, which might otherwise have been used 
against the main armies to the south. 

Apart from local failures, we may consider that the series of 
lesser actions on 25th September won a reasonable success. It 
should be remembered that in a large concerted movement the 
troops who have to fight containing battles have the most difficult 
task of all. They have none of the exhilaration of a great advance ; 
they have usually but a small artillery support ; their line may 
be none too strong. Their business is to hold the greatest possible 
number of the enemy, and it is generally a costly business. They 
are fighting for somebody else to win. The battalions in the 
main movement earn high honour, but let us not forget those 
others whose duty it is to stand and wait. They capture no great 
position, but without their aid no position would be captured. 



We come now to the main British attack, which was directed 
against the German Hne from the La Bassee Canal to the slopes 
in front of Grenay. The elements of the ground were simple. The 
German front ran south from the rise of Auchy La Bassee over a 
flattish tract to the Vermelles-Hulluch road. Thence a long low 
swell runs southwards, on the west side of which the German 
lines continued just below the crest till the Bethune-Lens road 
was reached. South of that the British held the crown of the 
ridge to Grenay. Several points in the enemy front must be 
noted. A mile west of Haisnes stood a slag-heap marked on the 
map as Fosse 8, which lay about half a mile inside the German 
line, and commanded all the country to the south. South of that, 
and about a mile and a quarter west of Cite St. Elie, a great redoubt, 
the HohenzoUern, had been pushed out some five hundred yards 
in front of the line. It was connected with the main front by two 
trenches, known to our men as " Big Willie " and " Little Willie," 
and also with the defences of Fosse 8. South of this was another 
work, the Kaiser Wilhelm ; and three-quarters of a mile north- 
west of Loos, on the summit of the ridge, was a strong fort, the 
Loos Road Redoubt, where a track from Vermelles crossed the 
downs. Just opposite Grenay stood a large slag-heap, called the 
Double Crassier. Behind the German front was a string of 
mining villages — Haisnes in the north, a mile and a half from La 
Bassee ; Cite St. Elie, a mile south, on the Lens road ; Hulluch, 
half a mile farther, and a Uttle to the east, a village strung out 
along a little stream ; Loos, two miles to the south-west, and 
about the same distance from Lens. Loos lies in a shallow hollow, 
and to the south-east rise further slopes, the highest point being 
marked on the map as Hill 70. From Hill 70 the ground falls 
away eastwards to the hamlet of Cite St. Auguste, about a mile 
from Lens, and virtually a suburb of that place. All these points 
were strongly fortified, and there were, besides, a number of other 
slag-heaps, pits, and natural features which lent themselves to 
defence. The most notable were the Quarries, half-way between 
the German front and Cite St. Elie ; the Chalk Pit, three-quarters 
of a mile north-east of Loos ; and the Pit No. 14 bis, between the 
Chalk Pit and Hill 70. The German reserve position was roughly 
just west of Loos, and west of the Quarries. The final position, 
so far as it had been located, ran from west of Cite St. Auguste 

1915] THE MAIN BATTLE. 309 

northwards, behind the string of fortified villages, Hulluch and 
Benifontaine, Cite St. Elie and Haisnes. 

The landscape, as seen from some one of the slag-heaps behind 
the British front, was curiously open. The opposing trench lines 
showed up clearly in the coarse chalk, and the country seemed a 
dead-flat plain, scarred with roads and studded with the head- 
gear of collieries and mean little red houses. But this openness 
was deceptive. Every acre was a possible fortress, and the low 
downs west of Loos screened at least half of the hinterland. Still, 
as compared with the Flanders battlefields, it was a clear terrain, 
where artillery could operate to some extent by direct observa- 
tion, and where, in case of success, cavalry might be used. There 
was scarcely a tree to be seen except in the south, where several 
small coppices cloaked the north-eastern slopes of Hill 70. But 
for the collieries and slag-heaps the place had something of the 
air of the South African veld, coarse grasses and self-sown crops 
being scattered sparsely over the baked grey soil. The land was 
well drained, but two hundred years ago it was swampy, and even 
to-day after rain the mud might be formidable. It had been part 
of the field of Marlborough's Flanders campaign, and it was 
between Hulluch and Cuinchy that Villars, on June 14, 1709, 
began to construct the first section of the famous " Lines of La 

The disposition of the British forces was as follows : From 
Givenchy to the Vermelles-Hulluch road lay the ist Corps, under 
Hubert Gough. The bulk of General Home's 2nd Division on 
its left was engaged in the subsidiary attack from Givenchy. 
Opposite Fosse 8, in the centre, lay the 9th (Scottish) Division of 
the New Army, under Major-General George Thesiger. On the 
right, facing Cite St. EUe, was the famous 7th Division, under 
its old leader. General Capper. South of the Vermelles-Hulluch 
road lay Rawlinson's 4th Corps, now wholly changed in its con- 
stitution. On the left, facing Hulluch, was the ist Division ; not 
quite the old ist Division which had fought at the Aisne and 
at Ypres, for the Guards battaUons had gone, and Territorial 
battalions had been added. On its right lay the 15th (Scottish) 
Division of the New Army, under Major-General McCracken. It 
had been three months more or less in the trenches facing Loos, 
and had acquired a complete familiarity with the ground — an 
invaluable possession for an attacking force. On the right — the 
extreme right of Haig's First Army — was the 47th Territorial 
Division (the old 2nd London), under General Barter. The Lon- 


doners were now seasoned veterans, having been at the front for 
more than six months, and having greatly distinguished them- 
selves in the May battles around Festubert. They lay in front of 
Grenay, facing the south end of Loos and the big slag-heap called 
the Double Grassier. 

The German forces, heavily outnumbered, held a position 
which could hardly have been bettered. Fosse 8, and the rows 
of mining cottages clustered about its foot, the Hohenzollern 
Redoubt, the Loos Road and Lens Road Redoubts, and the 
Double Grassier — besides the endless points of vantage behind 
them — gave them excellent observation posts and ideal ground 
for machine guns. They believed that an attack, even if it carried 
the first fire trenches, would shipwreck grievously on the deadly 
labyrinth behind them. The Hohenzollern was a typical example 
of German skill and industry in this kind of fortification. It was 
shaped like a pear, with its broad end pointing northwards, and 
had a frontage of some five hundred yards. From the south 
end the trench called " Big Willie," and from the north end 
" Little WiUie," ran back to the main line. The work was situ- 
ated on a gentle rise, with before it a clear field of fire, every inch 
of which could be swept by the machine guns inside. From end 
to end ran a main trench, from which cross trenches radiated to 
the extremities, and each trench was studded with machine-gun 

At 6.30 on 25th September, when the great bombardment 
slackened, the 2nd Division found itself speedily checked in the 
desperate country south of the canal. On its right the gth 
Division made for Fosse 8 and the Hohenzollern. The rise at 
Auchy La Bassee enfiladed its advance, and the 28th Brigade on 
the left had desperate fighting. They pushed beyond the Ver- 
melles-La Bassee railway, and took the first line of the German 
trenches ; but the position was too precarious to hold, and slowly 
during the day the Lowlanders were driven back. Meanwhile 
the 26th (Highland) Brigade had succeeded better with the Hohen- 
zollern. Saps had been run up to within a short distance of 
" Little Willie," and the artillery bombardment had played havoc 
with the interior of the redoubt. It was taken, but not without 
heavy losses ; and Fosse 8 was also captured after a violent struggle. 
The troops had to advance over a perfectly bare, shell-swept 
piece of ground ; the machine guns on the Fosse played on them 
unmercifully ; and, owing to the hold-up of the advance on their 
left, their flank was in the air. Yet by eight o'clock the leading 

1915] THE 9th division. 3" 

troops were close on Haisnes, and British soldiers had actually 
entered the village. The 27th Brigade was brought up, and was 
employed to clear the maze of trenches and cottages to the east of 
Fosse 8 ; but it was eleven o'clock before it could reach the advanced 
front, and by that time the chance of the capture of Haisnes had 
gone. By midday this section of the British line had driven 
foHA^ard in a broad salient, capturing the chief works of the enemy. 
But its gains were precarious. Fosse 8 was cleared but not 
occupied in strength, for our reserves were scanty, and all the 
land between it and Haisnes was filled with isolated fortins and 
sections of trenches still held by the enemy's machine guns. 

On the right of the 9th Division the 7th Division had made 
good progress. With no Fosse 8 or HohenzoUern to hold them 
back, they swept forward across the first German position. They 
reached the western side of the Quarries, where a sector of the 
German second Hne, strongly posted, held up that part of the 
advance. Their van entered the village of Cite St. Elie, and then 
pushed northwards, but by this time the weight of their attack 
was exhausted. The right brigade managed to reach the point 
where the Hulluch-Vermelles road crossed that from Lens to La 
Bassee. By midday the ist Corps had, except on its extreme left, 
taken the whole German first Hne, and at three points had broken 
into the second. But it had used up all its reserves, and for the 
moment could do no more. 

It was farther south, in the sector of the 4th Corps, that the 
advance reached its height. We have seen that the left south of 
the Vermelles-Hulluch road was held by the ist Division. Its 
attack was made by two brigades, and the ist Brigade on the left 
had a straight course. It swept forward for a mile and three- 
quarters, and early in the forenoon was in the outskirts of Hulluch, 
and up against the German last position. This charge was the 
more splendid, since its right was in the air. The 2nd Brigade, 
on the right, found themselves held by the German first position 
near the spot called Lone Tree, where the parapets and wire had 
been insufhciently destroyed by our bombardment. They had to 
he pinned to the earth till afternoon, when it was found possible 
to send in the divisional reserves through the great rent torn by 
the 15th Division to the south. This brought them in on the 
flank of the German garrison, 700 strong, which was completely 
cut off and captured. The whole division was then able to advance 
and take position on the ground won by the ist Brigade ; but 
it was already many hours behind its time, and it could neither 


support the successes of the troops on its right, nor exploit those 
of its left brigade. 

We now reach the brilliant advance made by the 15th and 47th 
Divisions, which resulted in the capture of Loos and — for a moment 
— the shaking of the whole German northern front. The Lon- 
doners, on the right, carried all before them. They had prepared 
assiduously for the day, working out the operations on a big model 
of the countryside, so that every battalion knew the lie of the 
land before it. Consequently, when one battalion lost all its 
officers, the men still carried out the plan with complete precision. 
As the French gunners watched the start, they were amazed to 
see one of the London Irish kick off a football from the parapet 
and dribble it across the thousand yards to the first German line. 
They learned that day that the stolid British had their own 
panache. In half an hour the Double Grassier was won, and the 
Londoners were pushing on across the Lens-Bethune road, a verit- 
able death-trap, every yard of which was dotted with shrapnel. 
Presently they had seized Loos Cemetery, and their left had swung 
into the outskirts of the village. The whole movement was admir- 
ably planned. A chalk pit south of Loos was taken, and the 
adjacent group of miners' cottages, so that the flank of the central 
advance was fully safeguarded. Before eight o'clock they had 
joined hands with the Highlanders in the shattered streets beneath 
the twin Towers of Loos. 

The advance of the 15th Division deserves to be told in some 
detail, not only because it was the most conspicuous achievement 
during the first day of the battle, but because it was a type of the 
actions fought that day in various parts of our front. The plan 
was for the 44th Brigade to make the direct assault ; the 46th 
Brigade, on the left, was to fetch a circuit and come in on the 
north side of the village ; while the 45th Brigade was held in 
divisional reserve. The gas attack — the first made by Britain — 
was delivered about ten minutes to six. The wind was very light, 
and the cloud clung too close to the ground ; worse still, the breeze 
came from the south-west, and since Loos lay in a hollow, and a 
wind, as every stalker knows, is apt to eddy down a hollow, the gas 
blew back to some extent on the 46th Brigade on the left. The 
cloud was greeted with a fusillade of rifle and machine-gun fire, 
but as it passed over the enemy trenches the fire slackened. At 
6.30 the whistles blew, and the Highlanders scrambled up the 
steps and were over the parapet. 

Our own wire had all been cut during the night, and th* 

1915] CAPTURE OF LOOS. 313 

dark tartans of the Black Watch and Seaforths raced over No 
Man's Land and flung them:^elves on the German Unes. The 
trenches were filled with German dead ; but from the deepest 
dug-outs a gallant remnant, who had survived the bombardment, 
brought up machine guns and turned them on the advancing 
infantry. But nothing stayed the rush of the Scots. By five 
minutes past seven the whole of the German first position, several 
trenches deep, was in their hands, and the battalions swept across 
the 800 yards intervening between the crest of the ridge and 
Loos. In that sinister mist, reeking of powder and gas and blood, 
the fury of battle possessed the souls of men who a year before 
had been sober, law-abiding civilians. Singing, cheering, and 
shouting mad encouragements, the Highlanders went down the 
slope. In front of Loos was the German reserve Une. The 
entanglements there had been largely destroyed by indirect fire, 
but patches remained unbroken, and these were cut by the Black 
Watch under heavy shelling. They lost severely, and the ground 
was terribly carpeted with their dead. But the brigade did not 
waver. It carried the reserve position, and at twenty minutes to 
eight, an hour and ten minutes after they had left their trenches, 
the Highlanders were surging through the streets of Loos, 

South-west of the church stood the tall twin towers, the head- 
gear of a colliery connected by a bridge, which our men called the 
Tower Bridge or the Crystal Palace, and which they believed had 
been constructed by the Germans before the war as an observation 
station. It was visible on a clear day from as far off as the Hill 
of Cassel, and from our old trenches the tops showed foreshortened 
over the downs, Uke the masts of a ship seen at a great distance 
at sea. The village itself consisted of four rambling streets, 
surrounded by many small gardens and enclosures. The clearing 
of Loos did not take long. The 47th Division was in its southern 
outskirts, firmly holding the flank, and the 46th Brigade of Scots 
Lowlanders was closing in on the north. Meantime the High- 
landers bombed the enemy out of the houses and cellars. Before 
nine o'clock all resistance was at an end, the battalion headquarters 
had advanced, and Loos was in our hands. 

But the Highlanders were not content. Their orders had been 
not only to take Loos, but to occupy the rising ground to the east 
— the broad down marked in the map as Hill 70. But the original 
plan had allowed for the attack to proceed beyond Hill 70, should 
circumstances be favourable, and though this had been modified 
on the eve of battle, the change had not been explained to all 


the troops, and the leading battaHons were in doubt about their 
final objective. The rise begins just outside the village, and the 
crest of the flat top is about a mile from the church. The 46th 
Brigade was closing in on the slopes from the north, and the rem- 
nants of the 44th Brigade advanced up the western side. The 
fire -from the defence for a moment gave them pause, and the 
German infantry came out of their trenches as if to counter- 
attack. The sight spurred the Highlanders to a great effort. 
They streamed up the hill like hounds, with all battalion formation 
gone, the green tartans of the Gordons and the red of the Camerons 
mingled in one resistless wave. All the time they were under 
enfilading fire from south and north, but with the bayonet they 
went through the defence, and at nine o'clock were on the summit 
of the hill. 

On the top, just below the northern crest, was a strong redoubt, 
destined to become famous in the succeeding days. The garrison 
surrendered — they seem scarcely to have resisted — but the High- 
landers did not wait to secure the place. They streamed onward 
down the eastern side— now only a few hundreds strong— losing 
direction as they went, so that instead of making for Cite St. 
Auguste they swung south-east towards Cite St. Laurent, the 
fortified northern suburb of Lens. The attack had now passed 
outside the legitimate operations of war, and had reached a district 
which was a nest of fortifications. The Germans had a great 
array of machine guns on a small slope outside the village, and 
they were busy installing others on the railway embankment 
north-east of Lens. The H'ghlanders formed a mad salient, 
with no supports on south or north. The captured garrison had 
manned the crest of Hill 70, and assailed them with reverse fire ; 
while from Cite St. Auguste, from near Pit No. 14 bis and the 
Keep to the north-west, from the environs of Lens and from the 
unbroken positions south-east of Loos, came a converging bom- 
bardment. The last stage of the Highland onslaught had been 
magnificent, but it had not been war, for there were no reserves 
to follow them. Had the supports been there, had their flanks 
been more secure, the enemy's northern front must have been 
pierced. In less than three hours the heroic brigade had advanced 
nearly four miles, and had passed beyond all but the last German 
trench hue. Lens seemed already fallen, the enemy was feverishly 
getting away his heavy guns, and for one moment the fate of 
Lille and the plain of Douai trembled in the balance. 

Between nine and ten a senior officer of the division took 


command on the hill, now strewn with the remnants of the 44th 
and 46th Brigades, and endeavoured to recall the van oi the 
advance, which was lost in the fog and smoke of the eastern slopes, 
and to entrench himself on the summit. The redoubt was out 
of our hands, and the Hne taken ran just under the crest on the 
west, and was continued north of Loos by the 46th Brigade. To 
retire the van was no light task. In the midst of encircling fire 
it was a forlorn hope, and few returned to the British lines on the 
hill. All down the slopes towards Lens lay the tartans, Gordon 
and Black Watch, Seaforth and Cameron, like the drift left on 
the shore when the tide has ebbed. By midday our line was 
consolidated with the help of the first troops of the 45th Brigade, 
the divisional reserve. 

It is necessary at this point to consider what provision had 
been made by Sir John French for supports. A modern battle 
is won by the superiority of numbers at the proper place and 
moment. The day has gone when a handful of men, like Cortes' 
adventurers, may conquer a kingdom. To pierce an enemy's 
lines by a frontal attack is a question of reserves. The great 
successes in this type of operation, such as Sheridan's at Chat- 
tanooga and Longstreet's at Chickamauga, were won by the 
presence at the proper moment of adequate supports ; the fail- 
ures — Meade at Fredericksburg, Pickett at Gettysburg, Grant 
at Spottsylvania — by their absence. The principal British reserves 
were General Haking's new nth Corps, consisting of the Guards 
Division, under Lord Cavan, and the 21st and 24th Divisions of 
the New Army. These troops Sir John French kept under his 
own hand, since our operations, according to his statement, were 
on so long a front and he did not know where the need might 
be greatest. There was the further difficulty that the French 
advance on Souchez was delayed, and it might be necessary to 
send troops to support our right flank. On the night before the 
battle the two New Army divisions were on the line Beuvry- 
Noeux-les-Mines — about five miles at the nearest point from our 
old firing line. The Guards Division that night was at Lillers, 
thirteen miles as the crow flies from the front and nearly twenty 
from the Loos area. Farther north, the 28th Division had been 
drawn out of the line of the 2nd Corps, and taken to Bailleul to 
be ready to move when orders came. The whole of General Fan- 
shawe's Cavalry Corps, less one division, was in general reserve 
some twenty miles back ; while General Rimington's Indian 
Cavalry was at DouUens ready to co-operate with the French 


cavalry in exploiting any infantry success. The 3rd Cavalry 
Division was just behind the line of the 4th Corps. The position 
on the eve of the battle was, therefore, that Haig had no reserves 
under his control except the 3rd Cava'ry Division. The nth 
Corps, the 28th Division, and the rest of the cavalry were in Sir 
John French's hands. 

At 9.30 a.m., when Loos had fallen and the Highlanders were 
in front of Cite St. Laurent, the Commander-in-Chief placed the 
2ist and 24th Divisions at Haig's disposal. At the moment they 
were about eight miles from the new front, and the route of their 
advance would be difficult as soon as the German counter-attack 
began. There were thus no reserves immediately available for 
the hard-pressed first line except the extra brigade kept in hand 
in each division. During the afternoon of the 25th these were 
brought up, and at the same time the Germans massed their 
supports. Till the darkening counter-attacks continued in a 
drizzle of rain, which broke towards twilight into a flight of rain- 
bows and a stormy sunset. Our hold on Fosse 8 was getting 
desperately precarious, while east of Loos the 46th Brigade was 
driven from Pit 14 bis, and the position on Hill 70 was gravely 

Meanwhile, through the rain and the darkness, the two divi- 
sions of the nth Corps were marching towards the firing line 
in order to relieve the ist and 15th Divisions of the 4th Corps. 
They were new troops, some of whom had landed in France only 
a few days earlier. They had been reviewed by Sir John French, 
who was impressed by their fine physique and their soldierly 
bearing, qualities which might well be nullified by lack of actual 
fighting experience. These men had never been " entered " to 
this kind of warfare, they had never been under fire, and they 
were destined to take their place in the front of one of the severest 
actions of the campaign. It was a trial too high for the finest 
material in the world. To add to their difficulties, the 21st Divi- 
sion was taken up to the trenches over exposed ground, where 
they were heavily shelled. Their transport, including their water- 
carts and copper cookers, was knocked to pieces ; and when, early 
on the Sunday morning, they advanced to relieve the brigades 
of the 15th Division, they were in no condition to endure a pro- 
longed strain. 

That night German counter-attacks were frequent against our 
new front. The 7th Division at the Quarries were driven out of 
their trenches, but for the most part our line stood firm. Sunday, 

1915] THE 15th division. 317 

the 26th, dawned clear and bright. All that day fighting was 
severe against the line of the ist and 4th Corps, but in the after- 
noon the 7th Division managed to advance and regain the ground 
lost at the Quarries. The new 24th Division attacked with one 
Brigade in the gap between Hulluch and the Loos Chalk Pit, and 
pushed forward most gallantly to the German last position in 
front of Vendin le Vieil. Their advance was carried too far, and 
in the afternoon they were compelled to fall back, with heavy 
losses, to their original line. For that afternoon a British attack 
had been projected against the redoubt on Hill 70, but it was 
anticipated by the enemy. Early in the forenoon he flung his 
reserves against our front, and the troops of the 21st Division, 
who had been for hours without food or water, were driven in. 
They thrice attempted to rally, but by that time their cohesion 
was gone. This lost us the Chalk Pit north-east of Loos and the 
advanced ground towards Hulluch, and caused our Une to bend 
sharply back from Hill 70 to the Loos-La Bassee road. On Hill 
70 itself we lost some trenches, and our hold on the place was in 

It was a critical moment, for there were no reserves at hand. 
At six o'clock on the previous evening the Guards Division had 
arrived at Noeux-les-Mines, and on the Sunday morning Sir John 
French placed them at the disposal of Haig. They were then 
eight miles distant, and were not hurried, for they were intended 
to be used in the next stage of the advance. But the fate of the 
two new Divisions upset all our plans. The 44th and 46th 
Brigades of the 15th Division, which had been taken out, were 
sent back to hold the reserve trenches, and a dismounted brigade 
of the 3rd Cavalry Division — the 6th, under General David Camp- 
bell—was flung into Loos to form a garrison. To the 45th Brigade 
of the 15th Division was given the task of retaking the lost ground 
on Hill 70. They advanced most gallantly to the attack, but 
found themselves faced by strong German reserves, and under a 
severe converging shell-fire. All that day and the succeeding 
night the situation was desperate. The 45th Brigade and two 
companies of the 9th Gordons were for long the only troops 
holding the first lines. Had the Germans attacked in greater force 
we must have been driven out of Loos. The 3rd Dragoon Guards 
came up at nightfall and occupied the trenches east of the village, 
and they and the Highlanders clung on during the darkness under 
a constant enfilading fire from Pit 14 bis. It was not till after mid- 
day on the Monday that the Guards Division took over the front 


and the 15th Division was relieved. Its losses were heavy — over 
6,000 for the two days' fighting — but it had earned a reputation 
second to none in the British forces. A year ago its men had 
followed civilian trades, and now they ranked in courage and 
disciphne and every military virtue with the veterans of our 
army. The farthest rush of the Highland Brigade was, no doubt, 
a blunder, a magnificent but a barren feat of courage. And yet 
that madness contained the seeds of future success. It had in it 
the rudiments of " infiltration," the tactics by which storm troops 
found weak places in a front and filtered through. Behind them 
there was now no tactical plan, no certainty of supports ; there 
was no prophetic eye among us to see what was imphed in their 
exploit, and we set it down as a glorious failure. Three years 
later, when we had learned what the enemy could teach us, the 
same method was applied by a master hand to break in turn each 
of the German defences. 

Monday, the 27th, was a day of cold rain and misty distances. 
The 28th Division had now been given to Haig, and was destined 
to reinforce the sorely tried ist Corps. It had been brought down 
from Bailleul, but before it could come up Fosse 8 had sHpped 
from our hands. The brigades which had made the advance on 
the Saturday had returned to the firing line, but under pressure 
of counter-attacks they were slowly forced back till our front 
coincided with the eastern part of the Hohenzollern. The Germans 
held both ends of the main communication trench, and gradually 
bombed our men out of the centre, while the recapture of the 
Fosse meant that we were terribly enfiladed by machine-gun 
fire. The German counter-attack was a well-managed affair, 
their artillery acting in perfect co-operation with their infantry. 
But the great event of the day was the advance in the after- 
noon of the Guards Division in the area of the 4th Corps. The 
line on the Monday morning ran from a point between Hulluch 
and the Loos-La Bassee road, dipping back to that highway and 
continuing round the north-east end of Loos, to the western 
slopes of Hill 70. Nearly three-quarters of a mile of ground had 
been lost on the left and centre during the Sunday, and it was 
the business of the Guards to win it back. It was the first time 
in the war that they had taken the field as a division, and great 
things were expected of them. These hopes were not disappointed. 
Two brigades of the Guards held the old first-Une German trenches, 
the ist on the left in front of Hulluch, and the 2nd to the north of 
Loos. The 3rd Brigade was for the moment in reserve behind 




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the ridge west of Loos. The business of the ist Brigade was to 
advance and straighten the left of that section, so that it should 
run parallel with the Lens-La Bassee road. The 2nd was directed 
against the Chalk Pit and Pit 14 bis, since the enemy possession 
of these points made Hill 70 untenable ; and immediately on their 
success the 3rd Brigade was to advance through Loos and attack 
the summit of Hill 70. The ist Brigade succeeded in its task 
almost at once, and during the subsequent fighting it safeguarded 
the brigade on its right from any enveloping movement. 

The 2nd Brigade was placed on the western slope of the shallow 
valley through which runs the Loos-Hulluch road. It looked 
across to the Chalk Pit, about three-quarters of a mile away, 
which lay in the north end of a small spinney. South stood Pit 
14 bis, a large colUery and a tall chimney, with beside it a red 
house and a fortified " Keep." Behind it, on the east, was a 
tattered wood, the Bois Hugo, which, though badly thinned by our 
artillery fire, still gave cover to machine guns. At 4 p.m., after 
a sustained artillery bombardment, the attack began. The left 
battahons had at first an easy task, and took the spinney with few 
losses. But the right battahons fronting Pit 14 bis had a difficult 
time. When they had passed the HuUuch-Loos road, and begun 
to ascend the opposite slope, they were deluged with shrapnel, 
and had to face a furious machine-gun fire from the Bois Hugo. 
They won Pit 14 bis, but the enfilading fire was too severe, and 
the fine in the evening did not extend beyond the south side of 
the spinney, though the Chalk Pit was firmly in our hands. 

Meanwhile the 3rd Brigade had advanced against Hill 70. 
The ground had been well reconnoitred, and it was obvious that so 
soon as they crossed the ridge west of Loos they would come under 
a heavy bombardment. Accordingly the men were deployed in 
artillery formation. Once on the ridge the shrapnel tornado burst 
on them, but the Guards advanced with all the steadiness of parade. 
It was Fontenoy over again, and the wearied infantry and cavalry- 
men who had been holding the front cheered wildly as the ordered 
line of the Guards swept inexorably into Loos. Once through the 
town they had to face a storm of gas shells. When they gained 
the crest of Hill 70, and were outHned against the sky, they were 
greeted by a fierce bombardment, and by machine-gun fire from 
the redoubt. Realizing that the line on the crest was too good a 
target for the enemy, the brigade entrenched itself about 100 yards 
to the west of it. Here it had the 3rd Cavalry Brigade on its 
right ; but its left was in the air, since there was a gap in the front 


between the Hill and Pit 14 bis. Next day, Tuesday, the 28th, 
the 2nd Brigade renewed the assault on Pit 14 bis. The place 
was important, for, being situated on the northern slopes of Hill 70, 
so long as it was in German hands it enfiladed our whole position 
east of Loos. At 3.45 in the afternoon it was attacked from the 
south end of the Chalk Pit, while our guns were turned on the Bois 
Hugo. Once again the enemy's machine-gun fire proved deadly, 
and, though a small party managed to reach Pit 14 bis, the place 
could not be held. We fell back in the evening to the Chalk Pit 
and the spinney, thus connecting with the 3rd Brigade east of Loos. 

The main phase of the battle was now drawing to a close. The 
enemy during the 29th and 30th shelled our line heavily, while 
we in turn laboured to consolidate our positions and to replace by 
reserves the more weary of our front-line divisions. All round the 
Hohenzollern there was constant fighting, where, with heavy losses, 
the Germans won small sections of trenches. Our line from north 
to south ran roughly from the Vermelles-La Bassee railway, west 
of Fosse 8, just east of the Hohenzollern, through the Quarries, 
east of the Chalk Pit, west of Pit 14 bis, and along the western 
slopes of Hill 70, a hundred yards short of the crest. South of 
Loos we curved back in a sharp salient towards Grenay. By the 
2nd day of October the readjustment of the front was complete. 
The French 9th Corps had taken over the line on the right from 
our original point of junction with d'Urbal's command to the north 
slopes of Hill 70, including the village of Loos. The 47th Division 
was moved farther north, and they and the 12th Division of the 
New Army under Major-General Wing completed the relief of the 
4th Corps. The ist Corps had received the 28th Division as sup- 
ports, and the Guards Division was under orders to move to that 
part of the front which included the Hohenzollern. The 46th 
Territorial Division (the old South Midland) was moving south 
to take its place with the Guards and the 12 th Division in the 
nth Corps. 

On the last day of September Sir John French issued an order 
to his troops setting forth the details of the action. Lord Kitchener 
in his congratulatory telegram described it as a " substantial " 
success, and that is perhaps the truest epithet. On a front of 6,500 
yards we had everywhere carried the enemy's first line, and we 
had broken into his second line in many places. We had cap- 
tured over 3,000 enemy rank and file and over 50 officers. Wc 
had taken 26 field guns and 40 machine guns, besides great quan- 
tities of other war material. A substantial success it was beyond 


doubt, the most substantial the British army had seen since trench 
warfare began. Our artillery had shown a brilliant competence, 
our subsidiary services had been good, and Sir John French in 
his dispatch paid a well-deserved tribute to the work of the Royal 
Engineers. Above all, our battalion fighting had been magnifi- 
cent. Where battalions failed, the cause was not to be found in 
any defect of the human material. 

Yet the exhilaration of victory, the sense that at last we were 
advancing, was tempered by a profound disappointment. We 
had had a great chance of which we had failed to take full advan- 
tage. Most of the results of surprise and of initial impetus had 
been lost during that tragic interregnum from Saturday at midday 
till noon on Monday, when a few weary and broken brigades clung 
heroically to an impossible front. There had been somewhere a 
colossal blundering. It is now clear that the whole offensive was in 
itself premature and mistaken, but such mistakes are inevitable for 
mortals who lack the gift of prophecy. But there are criticisms 
to be made on the British share which do not concern the major 
strategy. There were no reserves available for the main attack 
during the whole of the first day, and no adequate reserves till 
the third day; not till the Highlanders had taken Hill 70 were 
two reserve divisions placed at Haig's disposal ; these divisions 
were untried troops, who bent under the strain ; the Guards 
came into action on the afternoon of the third day, when the 
Germans had had ample time to consolidate their defences and 
bring up their supports. Had reasonable reinforcements been 
available for the ist Corps on the morning of Saturday, the 25th, 
it is probable that Fosse 8 would have been won beyond fear of 
loss, and that Haisnes and Cite St. Elie would have remained in 
our hands. Had like reserves been ready for the 4th Corps it is at 
least possible that Lens would have fallen, that our cavalry would 
have penetrated the German front into the plain of Douai and 
the Scheldt, and that presently Lille might have been at our mercy. 

It may be asked in the first place why our reserves were so scanty. 
There were only the three divisions of the nth Corps and the 
cavalry behind the lines. Two more divisions were procured — the 
I2th and the 28th — by withdrawals later from our northern from. 
But we had, all told, nearly a million men in France and Flanders. 
On the front of the new Third Army not a shot was fired during the 
battle. Was it not possible to mass stronger reserves, even at the 
expense of leaving our line in places a little thinner ? We knew that 
the French in their great concentration had large portions of their 


front dangerously depleted, but these risks must be taken in any 
offensive. That so few reserves were brought up argued a certain 
lack of prescience in the British plan. In the second place, the 
historian must inquire as to the quality of the reserves actually 
used. Two new divisions, unbroken to modem war, unfamiliar 
with trench fighting, and never hardened to that nerve-shattering 
experience, a great bombardment, were scarcely the material to use 
in the second stage of a great thrust. The physical fitness of the 
men was no justification ; it could only serve to increase the regret 
that good stuff should have been wasted. Lastly, even had the 
reserves used been unexceptionable in quality and numbers, there 
was a strange delay in sending them up. Some light is afforded 
in a sentence in the Commander-in-Chief's dispatch, where he 
explains that his troops were operating on a long line, and that 
it was desirable to keep the reserves at first under his own hand. 
Now, in a defensive action such a course would have been right. 
The general does not know where the enemy's main attack will be 
delivered, and must keep his reserves ready to bring forward at 
the point most gravely threatened. That has been a maxim of 
war since the days of Alexander. But the same precaution is need- 
less in an offensive. For there the initiative is in the hands of the 
attacking side ; its commander knows where he is going to make 
his great effort, and where he will merely fight containing actions. 
Admittedly the main British thrust was on the line La Bassee-Loos, 
and the four engagements fought farther north were only holding 
battles, where no reserves were required, since a permanent advance 
was not contemplated. Only in the First Army's area could 
resen'^es have been possibly used. But, since the earliest of these 
reserves were not available for Haig till the initial thrust was over, 
and at the time were at least eight miles from the scene of action, 
they could not be put to their proper use of strengthening and con- 
tinuing the impetus of the first assault. 

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the superb drive and 
devotion of the troops of attack were frittered away by a certain 
fumbling and confusion in the mind of Headquarters. They 
anticipated some sort of success — or otherwise why was the cavalry 
massed in reserve ? — but they had not considered fully the ways 
and means of it. They took the Germans by surprise, but were 
themselves caught unawares. They succeeded better than they 
had hoped, and were not ready to use the gifts of fortune. Of all 
the British actions in the war Loos was the one which did least 
credit to the High Command. 


One result of the battle was that criticism of the British staff 
work, which had been rife during the summer, rose to a pitch 
which demanded the attention of the nation. During the opera- 
tions which began on 25th September, as during Neuve Chapelle, 
Festubert, Ypres, and Hooge, there were doubtless instances of 
staff mismanagement. It would be hard to find a great battle in 
history which was free from them. Friction between the Staff and 
the battalions is as old as human warfare. Overwrought regimental 
officers are apt to regard the Staff as a Capua of ease and leisure, 
and to forget that the burden of the men behind the fighting 
Hne may be greater than that of the battalions in the trenches. 
As regards its Staff, the British army was in a special difficulty. 
The admirable Staff which belonged to our original Expeditionary 
Force had had to be multiplied many times, and the brain of the 
Army is precisely that which it is least easy to improvise. Again, 
at their best, our staff officers had not been trained to handle 
large masses of men after the fashion of our Allies and opponents. 
On this subject many wild things were said, single instances of 
failure were magnified into a general breakdown, and critics, both 
military and civilian, forgot that no human Staff is infallible, and 
that even Berthier and his colleagues had their lapses.* But there 
was this much of truth in the complaint : we were somewhat in- 
clined to underrate in practice the importance of the quality of a 
Staff, and to regard it as a residuum instead of a picked body. 
Men were occasionally given staff appointments not because they 
were fitted for such duties, but because they were unfitted for others. 
We possessed many staff officers of conspicuous ability, but in 
certain directions our lack of selection allowed the average of com- 
petence to dechne. The raising of this question, flagrantly unjust 

• For example, the elaborate orders for crossing the Danube from the island 
of Lobau to Wagram sent Davoust and Oudinot to the wrong bridges. In the 
march from the Channel to Ulm the orders involved an entanglement between 
Davoust's and Soult's corps. Berthier told Murat to be in force at two different 
places at once (October 13, 1805), and Davoust was ordered to concentrate at two 
different places (October 1806). In 1806 Murat replaced Berthier in command 
of the army at Wurzburg, but Berthier was not told, and for a few days both 
issued orders. Bernadotte's instructions, which he obeyed, kept him away from 
Jena and Auerstadt ; so would have Ney's, but he disobeyed them. It was the 
indifferent staff work of the French which largely led to their defeat at Salamanca. 
Ney's staff work in the Russian campaign was as bad as possible. Endless in- 
stances of the same thing may be found in the American Civil War — for example, 
Horker's Staff at Chancellorsville and Longstreet's at Gettysburg — but the Amer- 
ican Staffs were, of course, mainly non-professional. The Napoleonic orders were 
diffuse and complicated because, as Napoleon explained at St. Helena, many of 
bis marshals did not understand what was in his mind. Efficient staff work in the 
modern sense really dates from Moltke. 


though most of the charges were, had one good result. It com- 
pelled the nation to realize the vital importance of the thinking 
side of the Army, and the necessity, if we were to win the war, of 
seeking diligently and at all costs for capacity.* 

The British losses up to the ist day of October were in the 
neighbourhood of 45,000 men — almost as great as the losses of 
both North and South together at Gettysburg, or at the Wilderness. 
Among them were three brilliant divisional commanders. Major- 
General Sir Thompson Capper, commanding the 7th Division, 
was wounded in the advance of Sunday, the 26th, and died on the 
following morning. He had led his division at the First Battle of 
Ypres and at Festubert ; he was dedicated, if ever man was, to his 
country, and brought to battle both the skill of the professional 
soldier and the ardour of the visionary. On the Monday Major- 
General George Thesiger fell in an heroic attempt to hold Fosse 8. 
The commander of the 9th Division was one of the ablest soldiers 
whom the Rifle Brigade, that nursery of military talent, had given 
to the Army. On 2nd October fell Major-General F. D. Wing, 
commanding the 12th Division. Up to that date twenty-eight 
battalion commanders had died in the battle. An attack tells 
heavily upon officers, but in no earlier action of the campaign was 
the death-rate among senior officers so high. With the appearance 
of the new divisions in action our losses began to take on a new 
character. They affected all classes in the nation, and brought 
mourning to many households who in the past had little dreamed 
that any son of theirs would find a soldier's death. Men of 
distinction, too, in civilian life, scholars, poHticians, captains of 
industry, were among the slain. It was the first battle which 
taught our people that the union of classes and temperaments 
in a common effort is a partnership not only in service but in 

♦ " Take any army of the nineteenth century, famous for the excellence of its 
grand tactics — viz. Napoleon's army of 1805-6-7 ; Wellington's army of 1813-14 ; 
Lee's army of 1 864-1 865; Grant's, Sherman's, and Johnston's armies of the same 
period; Moltke's army of 1870: the Staff of each one of them had been welded by 
years of experience and by the teaching of a great soldier into a magnificent instru- 
ment of war. They were not composed only of administrative officers, concerned 
with supply, organization, quartering, and discipline, but of tacticians and strategists 
of no mean order. Combinations in war too often ' gang agley ' from the neglect 
of some trifling precaution, some vagueness or omission in orders ; and in the excite- 
ment of battle, and of approaching battle, when arrangements have to be made, 
possibly on the spur of the moment, for the co-operation of large bodies, unless he has 
l)een so trained that the measures necessary to ensure simultaneous and harmonious 
action occur to him instinctively, it is an exceedingly easy matter, even for an able 
and experienced soldier, to make the most deplorable naistakes." — Colonel G. F. R. 
Henderson : The Science of War, p. 69. 



The various Balkan States — Geography and History of the Peninsula — The Treaty 
of Berlin — The Balkan League — The First and Second Balkan Wars— Bul- 
garia's Discontent — King Ferdinand — Greece and Venizelos — Failure of Allied 

At this stage of our chronicle it is necessary to attempt a sketch 
of the main features of that Balkan problem which for nearly a 
century had perplexed the statesmen of Europe. It was the land 
of surprises, where nationalities had no recognized boundaries. 
It lacked the contours of modern civilization, that which elsewhere 
was moulded to use being there left sharp and ragged. On the 
outbreak of the Great War the peninsula was at first dismissed as 
negligible, and its recent struggles regarded as no more than the 
quarrels of kites and crows. But as the tide of the campaign 
moved eastwards, as the guns sounded in the ^gean and Russia 
fell back from Poland, men woke with a start to the importance 
which those barren hills might acquire in the later stages of the 
contest. That importance Germany had not forgotten while the 
Allies slumbered. To understand it we must consider the deter- 
mining factors in the labyrinthine Balkan politics. 

The immediate strategic significance of the peninsula was 
obvious. Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania stood between the Teu- 
tonic League and its Turkish ally. While the two latter remained 
neutral Germany could not easily munition or reinforce the armies 
holding the gate of Constantinople. Should either or both take up 
arms against her, there was a possibility of an attack on the exposed 
Teutonic right flank or an addition to the fighting strength of the 
AlHes in Gallipoli which might overbear Turkish resistance. The 
Balkan races were for the most part military peoples — those hard- 
bitten upland dwellers who, from the beginning of time, have made 


good soldiers. Accustomed to hardships, they could fight with a 
slender commissariat, and they had the bravery of those not accus- 
tomed to overvalue human life. If united, they could put into the 
field an army equivalent to that of a first-class Power, and, even 
without Serbia, their fighting strength stood at a million bayonets. 
Again, the Balkans were a fine field for diplomatic activity, for 
they represented the incalculable. Each state was still in a fluid 
condition. Each looked to extend its borders, for each owned 
many " nationals " outside its territorial limits. The Serb race 
was widely spread over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Austria- 
Hungary ; there were Bulgarians in Rumania, and the partition 
of Macedonia by the Treaty of Bucharest did not correspond to 
nationalities. Each state had, therefore, its Alsace-Lorraine to 
which it turned jealous eyes. Moreover, while each state had 
nominally a constitutional government and believed itself a 
democracy, each, owing to the comparatively recent date of its 
emancipation from Turkish bondage, was liable to the rule of a 
camarilla, an army, or a dynasty. Excepting Serbia and Monte- 
negro, all had alien royal houses. Rumania had a CathoHc 
HohenzoUem on the throne, Bulgaria a Coburg, Greece a prince 
of the house of Schleswig-Holstein. History has shown that 
such conditions offer a unique chance for tortuous diplomacy. 

To understand the Balkan situation a short survey is necessary 
of the topography and the history of the peninsula. It is a knot 
of mountains, with no great valleys and no natural geographical 
centre round which settled and civilized conditions of life could 
gather. Its peoples owed their nationalities primarily to race 
and historical accidents, rather than to geographical compulsion 
such as destined Britain and Italy to be nations. They were for 
long refugees in the uplands, and as mountain dwellers they con- 
tinued to look down upon the plains of Thrace and Hungary. 
But the country was not a barrier but a thoroughfare, for through 
it lay the road from central Europe to the ^gean and Constanti- 
nople. It was the nature of these alleys of traffic which deter- 
mined the development of the Balkan states so soon as their 
independence was secured. 

The old Roman roads are the best guide to the natural possi- 
bilities of movement. The greatest, the Via Egnatia, ran from 
Durazzo on the Adriatic by Monastir and Salonika to Constanti- 
nople. Another ran from Belgrade by Nish and Sofia to the Bos- 
phorus ; a third from Skutari to Nish, and on to the Danube ; a 
fourth from Monastir to the Danube by way of Sofia ; a fifth from 


Salonika by Uskub and Novi Bazar to Serajevo. Looked at geo- 
graphically, there are two great gaps in this mountain system. 
One lies between the main Balkan and the Rhodope ranges, to-day 
the route of the trunk railway from the West to Constantinople. 
The second is the gap of Macedonia, a much-encumbered gap, but 
nevertheless a true alley between the Rhodope and the western 
mountains, through which by way of the Vardar, Ibar, and the western 
Morava valleys a way could be found to the Save and the upper 
Danube. Of this alley Kavala was now the eastern gate, as Philippi 
had been in ancient days. It is this alley-country, Macedonia, which 
has been littered with fragments of all the Balkan races, and which 
throughout history has been the storm-centre of the Balkans. 
" In this narrow belt, bounded westwards by the cruel karst hills, 
eastwards by the wooded, pasture-bearing central uplands, open 
widely at both ends, all but blocked at the sides — ^within this belt 
is concentrated most of the drama and most of the tragedy of the 
peninsula. Whether we think of the wistful Serb, with memories 
of past glories ; the Bulgar, looking down from his upland bound- 
ary to his compatriots in the storm-swept plains below ; the Greek, 
with his trader's instinct, pushing inland from the seaports of the 
coast ; the Albanian, sweeping down from his mountains in brigand's 
raid, or creeping onward in peaceful agricultural penetration ; or, 
again, of Teuton and Hungarian in the north ; of Itahan, watch- 
ing the gaps of the coastal mountains ; of the cynical Turk, still 
finding peasants to work for him in the midst of the pervading 
tumult — with whatever party our interests and our sympathies 
lie, we have to remember that here, in this alley-way, which we, 
quite inappropriately, still call Macedonia, in this gap between 
western mountains and central land mass, lies the key to the 
history of the whole peninsula." * 

Such a geographical position had decisive effects on the ambitions 
of the several states. Greece, with a population of seafarers and 
coast-dwellers, stood outside the main problem ; her natural 
extension was towards the islands of the ^gean and the coast of 
Asia Minor. Bulgaria, stretching out to the sea, looked naturally 
southwards. Her two main rivers, the Maritza and the Struma, 
flowed to the ^gean, and national expansion tends to follow the 
river valleys. Her small Black Sea coast-line was insufficient ; 
the Marmora was blocked by Turkey ; and at their best, Black 
Sea and Marmora were not open to the world like the ^gean. 
Serbia, too, looked southwards. She was landlocked, and had no 

• Marion E. Newbigin : Geographical Aspects of Balkan Problems, p. 9. 


outkt for her commerce save through the lands of strictly pro- 
tectionist neighbours. Her natural road was to Salonika, but if 
this failed she had an alternative. A route to the Adriatic was 
possible, which should debouch, like the Via Egnatia, at Durazzo, 
on the flats of coastal Albania. Such an outlet, while more difficult 
than that to the ^Egean, offered greater advantages, for it brought 
the markets of southern and western Europe within easier reach. 

Macedonia therefore, both its coast and its hinterland, was 
certain sooner or later to become an acute problem for Serbia and 
Bulgaria, and in a lesser degree for Greece, and this purely on 
geographical grounds. It represented for the upland principalities 
the simplest path to the sea. If Serbia sought the ^gean she 
must have south-east Macedonia; if the Adriatic, she must 
control the northern districts. For Bulgaria to reach the ^gean 
meant the possession of eastern Macedonia, since the inhos- 
pitable Thracian coast offered no good harbours. Moreover, to 
both Serb and Bulgar Macedonia was irredenta in the full meaning 
of the Italian term. There, under foreign rule, dwelt many 
thousands of the compatriots and co-religionists of both. An alley- 
way full of unemancipated kinsmen, which to both states was the 
pivot upon which their racial ambitions moved, meant, so soon as 
they attained national stability, a contest first with Turkey and 
then, in all likelihood, with each other. The configuration of the 
earth's surface has been the ultimate cause of most of the quarrels 
of mankind. 

If Balkan geography determined the general character of the 
problems, Balkan history had decided the special form in which 
they were presented to the modern world. " History," in M. 
Sorel's famous phrase, " never stops short." The fruits of for- 
gotten deeds remain as a living legacy for the future. Under the 
Roman Empire the peninsula had become latinized and settled, and 
great trunk roads led from the lUyrian coast to the trans-Danube 
territories and the shores of the Bosphorus. But in the fourth and 
fifth centuries after Christ the Slavs swept down from the north, and 
absorbed the ancient Greek, Thracian, and Illyrian races, or drove 
them into the hills or the islands of the ^gean. At the close of 
the seventh century the Bulgars appeared, a Turanian race akin 
to the Finns, whose home was the country between the Urals and 
the Volga. Then followed fleeting Bulgarian empires, when the 
horse-tail standards reached the gates of Byzantium. In the four- 
teenth century the Serbs rose to power, and for a short time domi- 
nated the peninsula. Next came the Turks. The Bulgarians 


fell before the conquerors in 1366, and in 1389 the Serbians were 
vanquished at Kossovo — that fatal " Field of Blackbirds," in 
memory of which a black patch was worn till the other day in 
the caps of the Montenegrins. Constantinople was taken in 1453, 
and with the defeat of the Albanians under Skanderbeg in 1466 
the peninsula was in Ottoman hands. 

For three hundred and fifty years this dominion was un- 
shaken. The armies of the Crescent used the Balkans as the thor- 
oughfare along which they marched to their campaigns on the plains 
of Hungary. The conquered peoples lived in their little villages 
in the hills, and had no traffic with the conqueror. The Turk did 
not try to assimilate his subject races ; he was too proud and too 
indolent to proselytize on a serious scale, and he left them their 
language, religion, and customs with an easy toleration. Accord- 
ingly, when his rule grew feeble, there was a nucleus of nationality 
left to reassert itself. Greece, with the aid of France, Russia, and 
Britain, became independent in 1829. Serbia, under the first 
Karageorge, raised the standard of revolt in 1804, and by 1820 
had won a spectral autonomy as a tributary state. The Danubian 
principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia had long had an uneasy 
separate life, and by 1859 they had become united under the name 
of Rumania. Bulgaria alone remained in complete subjection till 
1876, when a rising broke out which was put down by Turkey 
with the barbarities which Western Europe came to know as the 
" Bulgarian atrocities." This event, and the previous declaration 
of war against Turkey by Serbia, led to Russia's participation 
in the struggle, and the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War in 
April 1877. 

In that war the Bulgarian contingent fought gallantly with 
Gourko in the Balkans, and the Rumanians, under Prince Charles, 
contributed much to the success of the Russian arms. On March 3, 
1878, when Russia was approaching Constantinople, the Treaty 
of San Stefano was signed, under which Rumania was to sur- 
render to Russia her portion of Bessarabia, and receive in return 
the Dobrudja territory, south of the mouth of the Danube. Bul- 
garia was constituted an autonomous state, with boundaries which 
fulfilled her wildest dreams, and which included every detached 
fragment of the Bulgarian race and something more. Her borders 
ran from the Black Sea to the Albanian hills, and from the Danube 
to the ^gean, and included the port of Kavala on the ^gean and 
most of Macedonia. This arrangement was not allowed to stand, 
since the Powers of Europe suspected that the new state might 


become a Russian dependency. By the Treaty of Berlin, signed on 
13th July of that year, Bulgaria was given only the land between 
the Balkan range and the Danube, and the country south of the 
Balkans was created into the autonomous province of Eastern 
Rumelia. Serbia was given Nish, and Greece Thessaly; Bes- 
sarabia went to Russia ; Rumania retained the Dobrudja ; and 
Bosnia and Herzegovina were put under Austrian administration, 
Turkey was left with Macedonia, Albania, and Thrace on the con- 
tinent of Europe, though she remained the suzerain of Bulgaria, 
Eastern Rumelia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. 

The modern history of the Balkans dates from the Treaty of 
Berlin. It is not an edifying record, being concerned chiefly 
with the quarrels of the separate states, and their indecision as to 
which of the Great Powers might most profitably be cultivated. 
The chief international importance is to be found in the record of 
Bulgaria. In 1879 the Assembly of the young state elected as 
sovereign Prince Alexander of Battenberg, who identified himself 
completely with Bulgarian national aspirations. In defiance of 
the Powers, he brought about a union with Eastern RumeHa in 
1885. This led to a quarrel with Russia, and the withdrawal of 
all Russian officers from the Bulgarian army. Serbia chose the 
moment to declare war, but was decisively defeated by Prince 
Alexander at Slivnitza on 19th November. Russia attempted 
to abduct the Prince ; but a counter-revolution, organized by 
Stambolov, the President of the Assembly, restored him. Un- 
fortunately he now made a false move by offering to resign his 
crown into Russian hands, and was compelled to abdicate and 
leave the country on September 8, 1886. In 1887 Prince Ferdi- 
nand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was elected to the vacant throne ; 
and the history of the following twenty years was made up of 
the rivalries of the Russian party and the anti-Russians, who 
adhered to the policy of Stambolov and attempted to reach an 
understanding with Turkey. War with the Porte was brought 
very near at times by Turkish barbarities among the Bulgarian 
population of Macedonia — barbarities which no doubt occurred, 
but which were at least equalled by the doings of the komitadjis. 
In 1908 the Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina 
inspired Prince Ferdinand to declare Bulgaria an independent 
kingdom. The matter was settled by the payment of an in- 
demnity, for which Russia advanced the funds. 

This brings us to the eve of the Balkan Wars, and we may 
summarize the situation thus. Bulgaria owed gratitude to Russia 



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for her action in 1877 and 1908, and as the consistent protector 
of Slav nationalities ; but the Stambolovists had a grudge against 
her for her treatment of Prince Alexander, and were incHned to 
look rather to Austria as a patron. Serbia had a general reliance 
on Russia, and had many scores to settle with Austria, partly on 
account of her treatment of the Southern Slavs under her sway, 
partly because of the Bosnian annexation, and partly because 
of old tariff wars as to the passage of Serbian Hve-stock beyond 
the borders. Rumania had a grudge against Russia because of 
Bessarabia, and a grudge against Austria because of the Ruma- 
nian districts of Transylvania. Greece had Httle love for Russia 
because of the Russian hankerings for Constantinople. All four 
Powers, too, were deeply suspicious of the Austro-German Drang 
nach Osten, the covetous eye cast on the shores of the iEgean 
and the road thither, which might put an end to their national 
existence. Bulgaria was suspected by Greece because of the old 
ecclesiastical quarrel between the Patriarchate and the Exar- 
chate, and the strife of the rival komitadjis in Macedonia — a sus- 
picion which she returned with interest. Bulgaria, too, looked 
askance on Serbia because of the unprovoked war of 1885, and on 
Rumania because of the Dobrudja and its Bulgarian population. 
The only bond which could unite these jealous little nations was 
a common grievance against Turkey ; for in Macedonia, under 
the rule of the Porte, Serbs, Bulgars, Greeks, and Vlachs suffered 

An alliance between such disparate peoples might well have 
seemed impossible, even under the spur of the Macedonian griev- 
ance, A Balkan League had been tried in the past, and had 
failed. The Serbian Ristitch, fifty years ago, had advocated the 
scheme ; there were discussions on the subject after the Russo- 
Turkish War, and King Charles of Rumania and Prince Alexander 
of Bulgaria approved it ; in 1891 the Greek statesman Tricoupis 
attempted to form an alliance, but was met by the opposition of 
Bulgaria under Stambolov. Six years later Bulgaria herself 
revived the proposal. To the most sanguine ideaUst the stubborn 
particularism and the secular antagonisms of the states might 
well have seemed an insuperable bar. The one common ground 
— hatred of Turkey — might unite them for a little, but presently 
interests would diverge, and alliance give place to conflict. 

This, as it happened, was the course of events. In the spring 
of 19 1 2 a league was formed for the purpose of driving Turkey 
out of Europe. Its moving spirit was M. Venizelos, and he was 


assisted by M. Gueshov, the Bulgarian Premier, by the Serbian 
M. Pasitch, and not least by the Times correspondent in the 
Balkans, Mr. J. D. Bourchier. It was agreed that any territory 
conquered should be held in trust until the aUies arranged for its 
partition. But a special treaty was made in February between 
Serbia and Bulgaria, under which it was arranged that north- 
west Macedonia— that is, Novi Bazar and the Prizrend and Prish- 
tina districts— should go to Serbia unreservedly ; that in the 
same way Bulgaria should have the south and south-eastern 
parts, notably Monastir and Ochrida , and that the zone between, 
comprising the Uskub territory, should be submitted to the 
arbitration of Russia. 

The story of the First Balkan War need not be recounted 
here. The Bulgarian armies marched into Thrace, defeated the 
Turks decisively at Lule Burgas, invested Adrianople, and were 
only checked by the Chatalja lines. Greece drove the enemy 
northwards beyond Salonika, and Serbia cleared northern Mace- 
donia and won the briUiant victory of Kumanovo. There was an 
armistice in December 191 2, and an abortive conference held 
thereafter in London. Hostilities were resumed : Adrianople at 
last fell on March 26, 1913, to the Bulgarians, and on 5th March 
Jannina had surrendered to the Greeks. Meantime, in the pre- 
vious December, Serbia had reached the Adriatic at Durazzo, 
and in April the Montenegrins took Skutari. 

It was now that the real trouble began. The Triple Alliance 
categorically refused to allow Serbia and Montenegro a share of 
the Adriatic coast. This was the natural outlet on the sea for 
Serbia, the direction in which her ambitions had always tended. 
But since the road was closed to her there, she declared that she 
must find compensation elsewhere, and that her arrangement 
with Bulgaria, which had been founded on the assumption of an 
Adriatic port, no longer held good. Bulgaria stuck to the letter 
of the treaty, which had not mentioned the Adriatic. Serbia 
was wilHng to meet Bulgaria and to accept arbitration, provided 
that the whole allocation of territory was arbitrated on, and not 
merely the Uskub districts as formerly arranged. The Treaty of 
London, signed on 30th May, deprived Turkey of all her Euro- 
pean possessions north and west of the Enos-Midia Une. But the 
allocation of the conquered land among the victors was postponed 
by the outbreak of a new war. For a moment there seemed a 
chance of peace when Russia invited Serbia and Bulgaria to Petro- 
grad. Serbia accepted, but Bulgaria insisted on laying down 


conditions about the limits of arbitration. Her intransigence was 
generally attributed to the influence of King Ferdinand ; it was 
certainly not approved by her civilian ministers or by the people 
at large. 

The Second Balkan War broke out in the beginning of July 
19 13. The Greeks and Serbians had occupied land on the fron- 
tiers of the territory which Bulgaria held, and the latter state took 
the initiative in hostiUties. In a week Bulgaria found herself 
attacked on four sides. The Turks, disregarding the Treaty of 
London, retook Adrianople and advanced to the old Bulgarian 
frontier. Greece and Serbia pressed in from south and west, 
Rumania, hastening to fish in troubled waters, annexed a further 
slice of the Dobrudja, which included Sihstria and a population 
of a quarter of a million Bulgarians, and without striking a blow 
marched her armies to within fifteen miles of Sofia. 

Bulgaria had no alternative but unconditional surrender. On 
loth August the Treaty of Bucharest was signed by the Balkan 
States, and a separate treaty was signed later at Constantinople 
between Bulgaria and Turkey. As a result of two sanguinary 
wars, and losses of at least 100,000, Bulgaria gained only a strip 
of Thrace, a fraction of Macedonia, and the open roadstead of 
Dedeagatch. The place was useless to her, for Turkey, by regain- 
ing Adrianople, controlled the only railway from Bulgaria to the 
iEgean. Moreover, she lost to Rumania a slice of her north- 
eastern territory. Serbia gained all central and northern Macedonia, 
including Uskub, Ochrida, and Monastir, and Greece received 
most of the rest. The Greek gains included not only Salonika, 
which was a legitimate object of Greek ambition, but the port of 
Kavala, which was Bulgaria's natural outlet. The Balkan League 
had ended by producing a hostility the more deeply felt because 
it could not be expressed in deeds : a hostility compared to which 
the old quarrels had been friendship itself. In Sir Edward Grey's 
words, " The war began as a war of liberation. It became rapidly 
a war of conquest. It ended in being a war of extermination." 
The beaten intriguers at Constantinople, Berlin, and Vienna had 
builded better than they knew. 

Such was the situation a year before the outbreak of the Euro- 
pean contest. Let us take the different states in turn. Greece 
alone was satisfied, for she had won most with least effort, and in 
her winnings had gained something more than her economic needs 
warranted. Her true line of expansion was, as a maritime people, 
towards the islands and the AnatoUan coast. Even if we grant 


that the great port of Salonika was justly hers, the addition of 
Kavala was beyond her due. But towards Bulgaria she felt a 
jealousy and bitterness which made her unwilling to surrender 
an acre. Ecclesiastical quarrels in the past ; the brigandage in 
which the scum of both countries had indulged for years in Mace- 
donia ; and above all, the fear lest Bulgaria, with her industrious 
population, might beat the Greeks in the race for numbers and 
wealth, shut her eyes to the desirability for Balkan development 
of a peace founded upon a just allocation of territory. Rumania 
stood somewhat aloof. She had got what she wanted, and did 
not intend to give it back ; but she suspected Bulgaria, as a man 
suspects another whom he has not treated quite fairly. 

Serbia had gained some of her desires, but had missed the 
vital one — an outlet to the sea — though she had certain running 
powers on the Salonika railway, and had been granted a shadowy 
permission to construct a line through Albania. In the scramble 
after the Balkan War she had on the whole behaved with the 
most dignity. In her argument with Bulgaria on the question of 
the secret treaty she was probably in the right ; for her main 
object had always been to secure free exports, and the prohibition 
by the Powers of access to Durazzo meant, if she surrendered 
central Macedonia to Bulgaria while Greece held the north ^Egean 
coast, that two protectionist states would intervene between her 
and the sea. It was clearly a case for the revision of any agree- 
ment, since the conditions had so materially altered. But the 
fact remained that she had not won her salt-water outlet, and 
she had acquired in her new Macedonian territory districts largely 
peopled by Bulgars, whom not even the familiar Balkan methods 
of proselytizing were likely to turn into good Serbians. The 
little state was under the guidance of a sane and politic statesman, 
M. Pasitch. She was a true democracy, full of valour, confidence, 
and no small military experience, having within a century fought 
Turkey four times and Bulgaria twice, and including among her 
citizens men who had seen five campaigns. After many dynastic 
troubles she had, in the grandson of Black George the Swineherd, 
a popular monarch. Her people, the Latins of the Balkans, fond 
of song and story, and thriUing to heroic traditions, were begin- 
ning to envisage with some sobriety the kind of future which 
was their due. Her wisest brains were thinking less of the East 
than of the West and South-west, of that Adriatic port which 
must some day be theirs, and of the championship of the Southern 
Slavs — Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Herzegovinans, Dalmatians, 


Croats, Slavonians, and Slovenes — most of them now the uneasy 
subjects of the Dual Monarchy. Serbia in 1914 stood to the 
Southern Slavs as Piedmont in the Italian Risorgimento stood 
to Italy. 

Bulgaria was left sullen and dissatisfied, with her pride deeply 
hurt and the glory won at Lule Burgas sadly tarnished. She had 
staked all on a throw of the dice, and had lost. She had taken 
the first step in hostiUties against her former allies, and in the 
summer campaign of 1913 had violated many of the decencies 
of war. But she considered, with some justice, that her punish- 
ment was disproportionate to her offence. The war for which 
she had sacrificed so much had left her in an impossible position. 
She possessed no part of that district of Macedonia which was 
inhabited chiefly by Bulgars. The great route by the Struma 
valley which debouches at Kavala was in the hands of Greece, 
who already had ports enough and to spare. The route to the 
JEge3.n by the Maritza valley was cut by the Turkish reoccupation 
of Adrianople. Finally, in the north-east she had suffered the 
sorest grievance of all. The Treaty of Berlin had' left Bulgaria 
the south-west corner of the Dobrudja plateau, including the 
town of SiHstria on the Danube. Rumania at the time had pro- 
tested against this, since the railway from Bucharest to the chief 
Rumanian port of Constanza crossed the river by the only bridge 
between Belgrade and the sea, at a point only twenty-two miles 
from the Bulgarian border. She had been told in reply that 
Bulgaria was not a military state, and constituted no danger ; 
but after the Bulgarian exploits in the Balkan War she demanded 
some rectification of this frontier, and carried her point. The 
result was that Bulgaria not only lost a piece of territory essentially 
Bulgarian in character, but, instead of gaining new outlets on the 
coast, lost two Black Sea ports, Kavarna and Baltchik, which 
she had held for thirty years. The Bulgarian people are the least 
emotional of Balkan races. They have been called the Scots of 
the peninsula, and, like the men of North Britain, are shrewd, 
cautious, and industrious. The losses of 1913 were precisely of 
the kind which they would feel most deeply. No talk of Slav 
brotherhood could blind them to the fact that they had lost very 
definite practical advantages to which they had long looked for- 
ward, and which they believed they were entitled to claim. This 
prosaic and tangible grievance, rankUng in the minds of such a 
race, was more explosive material than any whimsies about 
wounded honour. 


By the summer of 1914 it was pretty clearly recognized by 
the wisest heads in the Balkans and by the statesmen of the Triple 
Entente that the Treaty of Bucharest had been a blunder, and 
could not last. No state — except Greece, who had gained most 
— really accepted it as final. The aim of Germany and Austria, 
as of Turkey before them, was to keep the Balkans in a state 
of ferment and disunion. It was Austria that inspired the ill- 
omened Second Balkan War. Cut-throat warfare among the 
little nations was the best prelude to that movement to the Bos- 
phorus of which Berlin and Vienna dreamed, and which would put 
a speedy ending to the chaos of nationalities. The Triple Entente, 
on the other hand, could secure its interests only by the peace 
and unity of the several states, and to win this end there must be 
a redivision of territory. 

It was easy to suggest schemes for a fairer division, but it was 
difficult to see where the motive power was to come from to force 
their acceptance. Observers in the West were accustomed to fix 
on some particular state and idealize it — Greece because of the 
tradition of Hellas, Bulgaria because of its sufferings, Serbia 
because of its warlike prowess. Few westerners who dabbled in 
those uneasy politics seemed able to avoid a truculent partisan- 
ship and a complete loss of perspective ; and the " Balkanate " 
Englishman became as conspicuous a feature of the early twen- 
tieth century as the Italianate Englishman had been of the six- 
teenth. But the world was apt to forget that these were peasant 
states, nations of small cultivators but lately emancipated ; that 
in such states there is apt to be much of the cunning and paro- 
chialism of the peasant ; and that to ask them for broad views 
on world politics, more especially when such views demanded 
some sacrifice of present advantage, was like seeking grapes from 
thistles. Some strong persuasive influence from without was 
necessary before union could grow out of such sturdy differences. 

Into this confusion of struggling interests fell the thunderbolt 
of the Great War. 

Serbia's part alone was beyond doubt. The fates had placed 
her, like Uriah the Hittite, in the forefront of the battle. Rumania 
was torn between rival affections. King Charles, to whom she 
owed much, was a Hohenzollern ; German money had built 
up most of her industries ; in Germany and Austria she found 
her chief markets ; she had not forgotten Russia's snatching of 
Bessarabia. On the other hand, if she looked to the west, she saw 
three million citizens of her blood in Transylvania under the Magyar 


yoke. On the south lay Bulgaria, watchfui and unappeased. 
Clearly, whatever her sympathies, Rumania could not enter the 
war unless a prior understanding with Bulgaria were arrived at. 
Greece had nothing to gain from the Teutonic Alliance, and much 
to lose ; but she, too, was obUged to keep an eye on Bulgaria's 
movements. Bulgaria had a court and king whose Teutonic 
sympathies were pronounced ; but her people and her most con- 
spicuous statesmen, such as M. Gueshov, inclined to the Allies. 
Yet not unnaturally she was suspicious and hesitating. She 
must be sure of her " rights," whatever way she moved. The 
urgent need from the Allies' point of view was a new Balkan 
League which could promulgate a common policy for all the states, 
since each was so busily engaged watching her neighbour that 
she had no eyes for the clouds gathering in the West. Such a 
League would have been the more justified since, if the Central 
Empires won, the danger would not menace one state alone, but 
the very existence of Balkan nationality. 

At this point two personalities enter the tale. Topography 
and history will not by themselves wholly account for a problem ; 
the human element plays its part ; and the quahty of the actors 
determines the climax of the drama. The first was Eleutherios 
Venizelos, the Prime Minister of Greece. No one who first saw 
that modest figure and grave scholar's face could have guessed 
at the strange career or the dauntless will-power of the man. He 
had been the leader of the Cretan rebels, and had held his own in 
the mountains in a life where the hand keeps the head. Called 
suddenly to deal with the military revolution in Athens in 1910, he 
had quelled faction, won over the court, and reformed the constitu- 
tion by sheer dominance of character and mind. He feared nothing 
— neither the bullets of his enemies nor the reproaches of his 
followers. A democrat in policy, he could, if necessary, defy the 
populace and control it. As he told M. Take Jonescu, " I have 
always spoken to my fellow-countrymen the truth and the whole 
truth, and I have always been quite prepared to lay down my 
power without regret." His broad, sane ideahsm worked soberly 
in a world of facts. He had founded the Balkan League ; he had 
striven to prevent the second war, and to modify the vindictive 
Treaty of Bucharest. He saw what was implied in a Teutonic 
victory, and, like a true nationalist, wrought for the enduring 
good of his nation and not for a temporary gain. Before the war 
his poHcy had been that of the Triple Entente, and from the first 
day of hostilities he took his stand on the Allies' side. 


Far different was the second figure, Ferdinand of Bulgaria. 
As a character in fiction, if truly drawn, he would have amused 
the world, but would have been condemned on the ground of 
his manifest improbability. From the day when, twenty-eight 
years before, he had been selected — faute de mieux — by Stam- 
bolov to fill the throne which Prince Alexander had vacated, his 
career had been half comic melodrama and half romance. His 
mother. Princess Clementine, the daughter of Louis Philippe, and, 
according to Gladstone, the cleverest woman in Europe, had kept 
him secure in his early days in that uneasy seat. His treatment 
of Stambolov revealed his coldness of heart, but his quick assump- 
tion of Bulgarian nationalism proved his accuracy of judgment. 
He was like a parody of a Bourbon king in his tastes and manners. 
His hobbies were many — farming, gardening, ornithology, clothes, 
jewels ; and in his youth he had dabbled in the sciences, and had 
written a book on his travels in Brazil. His court was ridiculously 
ostentatious, so that the frugal Bulgarians stared and pondered. 
Physical courage had been denied him, and he would babble to 
all and sundry about his fears and disappointments. Surely the 
strangest monarch for a taciturn and martial people I 

But there was a method behind all this vanity and affectation. 
Ferdinand had a shrewd eye for his own safety and well-being, 
and, since his fate was bound up with Bulgaria's, he deserved well 
of his land. He gave it prosperity and international importance. 
He interpreted the saying " Apres moi le deluge " in a different 
sense from its author, and was resolved that if the deluge were 
to come it should follow him, for he would be leading it. Fears 
of assassination made him determine to be the figurehead of the 
national advance, whithersoever it tended. M. de Kallay, the 
Governor of Bosnia, who knew him well, was reported to have put 
his dominant characteristics in the form of a parable. " We are 
here on the first floor. If I tell you that assassins are waiting for 
you with loaded pistols at the door of my room, and advise you 
to jump from the window at the risk of breaking your neck, you 
will hesitate ; but if you see a cart laden with straw passing under 
your window you will jump. So will Ferdinand, but not till he 
sees the cart coming." The Balkan League gave him the chance 
of fighting Turkey in comparative safety ; but Austria proved an 
inadequate cart in the Second Balkan War, and he had a heavy 
fall. In the Great War he waited patiently for the straw till 
he believed he had found it. Vanity was his main trait, and for 
all his timidity he had the occasional boldness of the vain man. 


He knew also how to work on the vanity of others, believing, like 
de Tocqueville, that " with the vanity of man you do most good 
business." He was an incomparable sentimentalist. To one 
visitor he would deplore his fate as the leader of an ungrateful 
nation, in constant danger because of his virtues. To another 
he would pose as the lover of peace in the midst of strife. " I am 
like a bHnd man," he would say, " running about with a hghted 
torch among haystacks. Whichever way I turn, I must set some- 
thing on fire." Ambassadors of rival groups would be dismissed 
with dignified tears, and bidden to take an old man's blessing 
with them. Some ingenuous souls were deceived ; the more wary 
underrated him, and set him down as di farceur, which was probably 
the exact impression which he desired to produce. A fool's cap 
has before this covered a very shrewd and persistent brain. About 
the shrewdness of Ferdinand there was no question, and it was to 
this quality that he owed his hold upon his people. A monarch 
of such a state must be either braver or more cunning than those 
over whom he rules. Ferdinand had no courage to speak of, but 
his cunning was immense, and very generally respected by his 
subjects. They had had their hero in Prince Alexander, and had 
not greatly profited thereby ; now they were inclined to pin their 
faith to the politique. 

The course of Balkan diplomacy since the war has already 
been touched upon in earlier chapters, but the main events may 
here be summarized. By the beginning of 1915 there was little 
doubt but that Rumania's sympathies were preponderantly on 
the Allied side, and statesmen such as M. Take Jonescu prophesied 
her speedy entrance into the war. In January M. Ghenadiev, 
the ex-Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, was at Rome, and it was 
generally believed that an agreement had been arrived at between 
Bulgaria and Rumania. The Rumanian army, half a million 
strong, and one of the best equipped in Europe, was in a state of 
preparedness. During the early spring negotiations went on 
with Russia to determine Rumania's reward for intervention. 
At that period, with Russia in the Carpathian passes, the chance 
of an effective strategic blow by Rumania was good, but suddenly 
there came a hitch in the arrangements. Petrograd hesitated on 
one point which Bucharest regarded as vital, and nothing was 
done during March and April. By the time that matters were 
arranged the situation had changed. Russia had suffered her 
debacle on the Donajetz, and the easiest road for Rumanian participa- 



tion was now blocked. The little state was in a difficult position, 
with the Teutonic League triumphant on her northern border, and 
Bulgaria, on the south, once more plunged in the mire of indecision. 
She could do nothing but keep her army in readiness and wait. 

The attitude of Greece was from the start benevolent to the 
Allied interests. In the second month of the war M. Venizelos 
intimated to France and Britain that, should the necessity arise, 
they might count on the certain assistance of his country. In 
January 1915 he reaUzed that that necessity might be near, and on 
the nth of the month addressed to his king a letter which so 
admirably states the obligations of Greece arising both from 
honour and national interest that some sentences may be quoted : — 

" Until to-day our policy simply consisted in the preservation of 
neutrality, in so far at least as our treaty obligations with Serbia did 
not oblige us to depart therefrom. But we are called upon to partici- 
pate in the war, no longer in order to fulfil simply moral obligations. 
but in view of compensations, which if realized will create a great 
and powerful Greece, such as not even the boldest optimist could 
have imagined only a few years back. 

"If we allow Serbia to be crushed to-day by another Austro- 
German invasion, we have no security whatever that the Austro- 
German armies will stop short in front of our Macedonian frontiers, 
and that they will not be tempted as a matter of course to come down 
as far as Salonika. But even if this danger is averted, and we admit 
that Austria, being satisfied with a crushing military defeat of Serbia, 
will not wish to establish herself in Macedonia, can we doubt that 
Bulgaria, at the invitation of Austria, will advance and occupy 
Serbian Macedonia ? And if that were to happen, what would be 
our position ? We should then be obliged to hasten to the aid of 
Serbia unless we wished to incur the dishonour of disregarding our 
treaty obligations. Even if we were to remain indifferent to our 
moral debasement and impassive, we should by so doing have to 
submit to the disturbance of the Balkan equilibrium in favour of 
Bulgaria, who, thus strengthened, would either now or some time 
hence be in a position to attack us, when we should be entirely with- 
out either a friend or an ally. If, on the other hand, we had then to 
help Serbia in order lu fulfil the duty incumbent on us, we should 
do so in far more unfavourable circumstances than if we went to her 
assistance now, because Serbia would already be crushed, and in 
consequence our aid would be of no, or at best of little, avail. More- 
over, by rejecting now the overtures of the Powers of the Triple 
Entente, we should, even in the event of victory, secure no tangible 
compensation for the support we should have lent." 

He saw that a new Balkan League was necessary, and to 
secure Bulgaria's adherence he was prepared to agree to a 


drastic revision of the Treaty of Bucharest. We have already 
seen the consequences of the Greek Premier's policy. The Darda- 
nelles scheme failed to attract the support of the Greek General 
Staff ; and King Constantine, relying on this circumstance, and 
swayed by his German relationship, insisted upon neutrality, and 
brought about M. Venizelos's resignation. An appeal to the 
people restored him to power, and by the middle of August he wa3 
again in possession of the reins of government. But no step was 
taken, for Bulgaria was being wooed by the Allies with concession3 
wrung with difficulty from Greece and Serbia. 

Bulgaria, so it seemed in the early part of the year, might be 
won for the Allies if her price were paid. Serbia was slow to relin- 
quish any part of Macedonia, more especially after the December 
Battle of the Ridges had freed her for the moment from Austrian 
invasion. The Greek people — but not M. Venizelos — were also 
loth to surrender Kavala. The compensating gains to them, it 
should be remembered, such as a slice of Asia Minor, were only 
for the future, whereas Bulgaria insisted upon a bird in the hand. 
We have seen that in September 1914 Bulgaria had signed a secret 
treaty with Austria, pledging herself not to enter into any alliance 
against her, but this was unknown to the statesmen of the Entente. 
But some anxiety was caused by the payment, in February 1915, 
by a German bank of a second instalment of the loan concluded 
in BerUn the year before, and men asked if it was likely that the 
money had been transferred without some substantial guarantee. 
In March there were Cabinet difficulties, and the Premier, M. 
Radoslavov, found it necessary to reassure the world that Bul- 
garian policy was one of strict and loyal neutrality. The attempts 
to cut the Salonika Hne by Bulgarian bands looked ugly ; but it 
was assumed that they were only raids of the lawless Bulgarian 
komitadjis, for whom, in Dr. Johnson's phrase, patriotism was 
the last refuge of the scoundrel. But in May came Mackensen's 
Galician advance, and from that date it is clear that the opinions 
of King Ferdinand and his camarilla hardened in favour of the 
Central Empires. The Russian retreat and the Allied stalemate 
in the Dardanelles convinced them that victory would lie with 
the Teutonic League. On 29th May the Allies made a definite 
proposal to Bulgaria, and throughout the summer Serbia and Greece 
were brought into line, the representations to M. Pasitch on 4th 
August by all the Allies being the last step in the negotiations. 
M. Radoslavov on 20th July, and again on 12th August, declared 
that Bulgaria was prepared to enter the war as soon as she received 


guarantees as to her very modest national requirements. Serbia 
retorted that, on the contrary, Bulgaria was making difficulties 
because she did not want to move. About the same time there were 
rumours of a coming German assault upon Serbia which would clear 
up the Balkan situation by compelling each neutral state to a decision. 

Serbia was right. While M. Radoslavov was protesting his 
honest neutrality, and King Ferdinand was weeping on the necks 
of the Allied diplomatists, Bulgaria's decision had been taken. In 
July the final negotiation? began with the Teutonic League, under 
the auspices of Prince von Hohenlohe-Langenburg ; at the end of 
August a Bulgarian representative visited German Headquarters ; 
and on 6th September a convention was signed at Pless by 
Conrad von Hoetzendorff and Falkenhayn. Within thirty-five days 
Bulgaria, Germany, and Austria were to march together. The 
Teutonic League paid Bulgaria her price, and something more. In 
return for intervention on their side, she was to be given Serbian 
Macedonia and Serbia east of the Morava, and if Rumania or Greece 
attacked her or her allies she was to receive in addition all the terri- 
tories ceded to these states under the Treaty of Buchirest. This 
momentous act, which was to have a far-reaching influence on the 
war, was not the work of the whole Bulgarian people, probably 
not of the majority. It was concealed from M. Gueshov and the 
Opposition, and from many of the chiefs of the army. The peasants, 
who still held to Russia, as their fathers had done in 1877, were not 
consulted. If John Bright was right, and the nation in every 
country dwells in its cottages, the treaty had no national sanction. 

The Allied diplomacy had failed, more especially that of Britain, 
which had been entrusted with most of the work. We had begun 
by refusing to take the Balkans seriously, and ended by passing 
from apathy to hustle. Two policies might have been followed, 
each in itself reasonable. Balkan unity might have been secured 
in the first half-year of war by putting sufficient pressure upon both 
Serbia and Greece. Neither was in a position to withstand the 
resolute representations of the Allies. Or Bulgaria might have 
been isolated, and Greece, Serbia, and Rumania brought forthwith 
into active alliance. As it was, by urging concessions ineffectually, 
we did not satisfy Bulgaria, and we made difficulties for the leaders 
of the other states. That lack of a clear and considered policy 
which produced the Gallipoli landing was responsible no less for the 
treaty of 6th September. The Balkan States, like many of a more 
advanced civilization, could be won only by straight and resolute 
dealing, backed by an adequate force of arms. 



September ig-Odober 15, 1915. 

Bulgaria's Alliance with Germany — Mackensen's Army — The Intrigues at SoiSa— 
The Position of Greece — The Allies send Troops to Salonika. 

After the victories of Platsea and Mycale, as may be read in the 
ninth book of Herodotus, an Athenian expedition sailed to the 
Dardanelles and laid siege to the town of Sestos, which was in 
Persian hands. The place was the strongest position in the pen- 
insula, and during the hot summer months it resisted stoutly. 
Autumn came, and the Athenians began to murmur, but their leader 
Xanthippus declared that there could be no return till Athens 
recalled her army or Sestos fell. Then one morning the enemy 
disappeared. The garrison had been in desperate straits for 
supplies, the Persian Artayctes drew off his men by night, and the 
gates of Sestos were opened to the conquerors. Such was one 
result of the strife between Europe and Asia at the sea-gates of 
the Marmora. But if the story of Herodotus offered a good omen 
for the GaUipoli adventure of the Allies in 1915, there was another 
tale of an overseas expedition told by a greater historian which 
could not but recur to men's minds. Sixty-two years after Xan- 
thippus took Sestos, Nicias the Athenian led a mighty expedition 
to the siege of Syracuse. It was largely inspired by Alcibiades, a 
brilHant but erratic politician. It was conducted by the chief 
naval Power of the day and the chief protagonist of democracy. 
Its ablest soldier, Lamachus, found his plans overridden by instruc- 
tions from home. The Syracusans had formidable defences, but 
they must have fallen, had they not been aided by Sparta, then the 
chief Power by land and the exponent of oligarchical government. 
On the part of Athens it was an amphibious expedition, involving 


a landing of an expeditionary force in co-operation with a great 
fleet. At first various small victories were gained, but soon the 
besiegers became the besieged, and the campaign dragged aimlessly 
on till that tragic autumn when Nicias and Demosthenes laid down 
their arms and the flower of the youth of Athens perished in the 
quarries. This, wrote Thucydides, was the greatest disaster that 
ever befell a Greek army. " For being altogether vanquished at 
all points, and having suffered in great degree every affliction, they 
were destroyed, as the saying is, with utter destruction, both army 
and navy and everything ; and only a few out of many returned 

The S3n:acusan expedition was the death-blow of the Athenian 
Empire. It was easy to make of it a parable, putting modern 
names for those of Nicias and Alcibiades, Lamachus and Gylippus, 
Athens and Sparta, and find a score of striking parallels. Such 
historical apologues, whether they cheer or depress, are to be 
sparingly used, since the data they provide are too loose for a fruitful 
deduction. But by the end of September it was clear to observers 
in the West that our position in the Eastern Mediterranean, never 
strategically good, was about to be complicated by that very 
event which we had hoped to frustrate. The Turks, depleted in 
men, and with their stock of munitions running low, were soon to 
receive dangerous reinforcements. Gylippus had come to the aid 
of the Syracusans. 

By 22nd September the evacuation of the Vilna salient was 
complete, and the great German effort to force a decision in that 
quarter had failed. Ivanov's counter-offensive in the south had 
already developed, and the army of Pflanzer-Baltin was being 
pushed back from the Sereth. It was Germany's supreme merit 
that when she was foiled in one direction she struck quickly in 
another. The Great General Staff had always a number of alternate 
plans prepared in every detail, and when one miscarried another 
was taken from its pigeon-hole. Many reasons now combined to 
make a campaign in south-eastern Europe desirable. Turkey was 
hard pressed for munitions, and could not use her man-power to the 
full unless she received equipment from her aUies. More, there was 
a risk that, unless she received substantial help without delay, 
the elements in Ottoman hfe which had no heart for the war and 
detested the German dominance might assert themselves against 
Enver and his camariUa. Again, the conquest of the road to Con- 
stantinople would release for Germany supplies of food, cotton, and 
metals, and, conceivably, of men. Bulgaria was already committed 


to the Teutonic League, and Bulgaria could put at least 300,000 
trained soldiers in the field. The local situation was promising. 
Twelve British divisions were held up in the Gallipoli peninsula, 
where they could neither advance nor easily retreat. The Serbian 
army was depleted in numbers, and had no store of supplies to see 
them through a fresh campaign. With Bulgaria friendly, only a 
little effort would free the Danube route to Constantinople, and a 
further thrust would give Germany the Ottoman railway. With 
that in her hands, firmly guarded by the southern wall of mountains 
against attacks from the ^Egean, Germany, if need be, could rest 
content for the winter. The difficulties of Greece and Rumania, 
great at the best of times, would be many times multipUed by the 
situation thus created. Whatever their sympathies or their fears, 
with the Central Powers driving a solid wedge towards the Bos- 
phorus, with the Serbians pushed into the inhospitable Albanian 
hills, with the Western Allies held fast in Gallipoli, and with Russia 
unable to do more than maintain her long front from the Dniester 
to the Gulf of Riga, there would be small temptation for either to 
leave the path of neutrality. 

But behind the Balkan expedition there was a shrewder pur- 
pose than the mere defence and comfort of a flank. The German 
plan which sought a speedy decision had long ago gone to pieces. 
She was compelled to keep her main armies on the Western and 
Eastern fronts, and on both she was already much inferior in 
numbers of equipped men. A decision in the true sense could only 
be got on these main fronts, and if the Allies concentrated their 
efforts there it was not likely that the result could be long delayed. 
Her aim was, therefore, to draw off her enemy's strength to a re- 
mote and irrelevant terrain. She knew our passion for divergent 
operations. Fears for India and Egypt would, she argued, cause 
us to forget the essentials of strategy. Already we had given hos- 
tages to fortune by locking up our troops in Galhpoli. With a little 
trouble she might induce us to divert to the Balkans many of the 
new divisions which were destined for France and Flanders, and even 
to strip our Western front of troops already there. She observed 
with approval that British statesmen talked rhetorically of the Near 
East, as the nerve centre of the War, and she was ready to indulge 
the curious fancy.* 

The adventure was entrusted to Mackensen, the most successful 
soldier of the summer. Reports began to arrive in the West, 
chiefly from Bucharest, as early as the middle of August, that some 

• See Ludendorff: War Memories (Eng. trans.) I., pp. 173-4. 


kind of concentration was going on north of the Danube. Goods 
traffic between Rumania and Austro-Hungary wa.s suspended. 
Units began to disappear from the Russian front, to the confusion 
of Russian staff officers, who could not fathom the reason for corps 
going suddenly into reserve. The Army of the Balkans was being 
formed, and before the end of August six divisions had gone south- 
ward. The fierce battles of early September for a little held up 
further reinforcements, but by the middle of the month a mass of 
troops was assembling north of the Danube and the Save. They 
included a new XL German army of seven divisions under Gallwitz, 
who was succeeded by von Fabeck in command of the XH. 
army ; and the HI. Austro-Hungarian army under von Kovess, of 
four divisions, reinforced by a German corps of three divisions. 
Western Serbia was neglected, because the troops in Bosnia, weak- 
ened by drafts for the Isonzo front, were not equal to an offensive, 
though an Austrian detachment watched the banks of the Drina. 
The main forces were disposed opposite Belgrade, and along the 
Danube towards the Bulgarian frontier. On the 19th of September, 
about two in the afternoon, the first enemy batteries opened against 
the Serbian capital. 

Before entering upon the details of the campaign, it is necessary 
to consider the events which brought in Bulgaria on the Teutonic 
side. We were not aware at the time of the secret negotiations 
which began in July, but by the end of August there was ample 
ground for suspicion. Peripatetic German agents — Prince Hohen- 
lohe-Langenburg in July, Duke John of Mecklenburg and Dr. von 
Rosenburg in August — were being welcomed at Sofia. In Sep- 
tember Liman von Sanders paid a visit from Constantinople. But 
for some reason the Allied Governments were loth to trust 
the evidence of their experts. They had talked themselves into 
believing that Bulgarian interests must be hostile to the Powers 
which meditated a Drang nach Osten, and on the face of it there 
were specious reasons for this belief. They received all rumours, 
therefore, with incredulity, and, in spite of Serbia's warnings, 
continued to cultivate the goodwill of Sofia, and believe the pro- 
testations of King Ferdinand. 

The Bulgarian military system had for its working unit a strong 
division of sixteen battalions, or about 24,000 men. There were 
nominally fifteen divisions, ten of the first line and five of the second ; 
but two new divisions of volunteers had been raised from the 
districts acquired in Macedonia and Thrace, bringing the field army 
up to about 300,000 rifles. Bulgaria was weak in reserves, for 


behind this force she had only a Territorial reserve of some 20,000, 
and the recruits of the 19 16 class — all told, about 60,000 men. She 
could thus mobilize approximately 360,000 men, much the same 
strength as she had raised for the wax of 1912-13. Her infantry — 
the first line at all events — was of excellent quality, and she pos- 
sessed a General Staff of the most approved German pattern. Her 
weakness lay in her artillery. To each of her fifteen divisions nine 
batteries of field guns and one of 4.7-inch howitzers were attached, 
too small a complement for modern war. There was reason to 
believe that not aJl her field-batteries were of the quick-firing type, 
and in any case they were of two separate patterns — Creusot 
" 75's," and the Krupp " 77's," which she had captured from the 
Turks in the Thracian campaign. This lack of uniformity of type 
was conspicuous also in her heavy pieces. The Bulgarian army was 
therefore a force which might be to some extent handicapped if 
engaged in open country with a well-equipped enemy, but which, 
owing to its veteran character, was well fitted for warfare in a bUnd 
and pathless mountain region. 

This is not the place to tell the full tale of the intrigues of Sofia 
during the summer — the currents and cross-currents which pulled 
the ship of state hither and thither, and finally swept it towards the 
cataract. Only a few events stood out clear to the world in the 
mist of rumour which hung over the Balkans during September. 
Some time between the 14th and 20th of the month it was known 
that a treaty had been signed between Bulgaria and Turkey. It 
purported to be no more than the settlement of the Dedeagatch rail- 
way question, of which we had heard in July, when the German 
intentions towards Serbia were already patent. Bulgaria's secret 
was well kept, but on 21st September, M. Venizelos, the Greek 
Premier, who beheved that his country, owing to the terms of 
her alliance with Serbia, must enter the fray, asked France and 
Britain for 150,000 troops. Two days later the Bulgarian mobili- 
zation began. On the 24th the Western Allies acceded to M. 
Venizelos's request, and that same day Greece began to mobilize, 
the order having been signed by the King at four o'clock the after- 
noon before. On the 25th Bulgaria, following the precedent of 
Turkey in the previous November, issued an explanation of her 
mobilization. She declared she had no aggressive intentions, and 
mobiUzed, like Holland and Switzerland, only to defend her rights 
and independence. Her position, she said, was that of armed 
neutrality. That same evening came the news that Bulgarian 
cavalry were massing on the Serbian borders. Rumania, much 


agitated by the new situation, announced that as yet she would 
take no decisive step. Her army was akeady mobilized, and her 
troops remained concentrated on her frontiers. The Greek mobili- 
zation was calculated to produce a strength Uttle less than Bulgaria's. 
In 1912 the Greek army had consisted of four weak divisions ; in 
19 13 it had risen to ten divisions ; and after peace it remained at 
eleven divisions. The new war strength was six corps, each of 
three divisions, giving a total of about 240,000 men, w ith half that 
number in reserve. Each division — numbering about 12,500 
rifles — had eight field or mountain batteries, and in many cases a 
heavy battery as well, giving an average of three pieces per thousand 
as compared with the Bulgarian two per thousand. The whole 
of the Greek artillery was composed of modem quick-firing Creusot 

Meanwhile there were protests from within Bulgaria against 
the obvious trend of her action. A deputation of ex-Ministers— 
M. Gueshov, M. Danev, M. Zanov, the leader of the Radical Demo- 
crats, M. Malinov, the chief of the Democratic party, and M. Stam- 
buliski, the leader of the Agrarians— sought an interview with the 
King. King Ferdinand, it may be beheved, heard some plain 
speaking that day. M. Malinov demanded the immediate con- 
vocation of ParUament, since the country at large was opposed to 
any adventure in Germany's company. He warned his sovereign 
that the enterprise would be more disastrous for Bulgaria than the 
Second Balkan War. The Agrarian leader, a peasant by origin, 
was frankness itself. " This poHcy," he said, " will lead to fresh 
disasters, and will ruin not only our country, but your dynasty, 
and may cost you your head." King Ferdinand endeavoured to 
turn the conversation on to autumn crops, and dismissed his mentors. 

The skies were darkening over Serbia, but there were still gleams 
of hght. Mackensen was not yet advancing, and neither Save 
nor Danube was crossed. It was believed that Greece would be 
true to her alliance, and that the Western AlHes were sending 
adequate reinforcements. The main danger was Bulgaria, for a 
sudden attack on flank would gravely compromise the situation, 
and might cut off the Serbian army from its communications with 
Greece and the Allies on the seaboard. On 27th September, 
accordingly, Serbia informed the British Government that she 
considered it wise to attack Bulgaria before the mobihzation there 
was complete. Beyond doubt it was the correct military policy, 
for the Bulgarian menace was the most deadly, and if Serbia 
fought on a front running north and south she would be in a favour- 


able position to join hands with any reinforcements sent by her 
Allies. Except that a formal declaration of war was lacking, 
there could be no doubt about Bulgaria's intentions. If Serbia 
delayed, Bulgaria would strike the first blow. The Serbian mobili- 
zation was complete, the Austro-Germans were not yet across the 
rivers, and the true centre of gravity was the eastern front. In 
the event of failure she could retire upon Salonika, but if Bulgaria 
once got round her flank she would be driven into the difficult 
Albanian hinterland and cut off from her friends. But the British 
Government discouraged Serbia's plan, declaring that the dip- 
lomatic and pohtical arguments were against it. Apparently at 
that late hour we still cherished the vain hope that Bulgaria might 
stay her hand. It was a fatal decision. It compromised Serbia's 
plan of campaign, and could only have been justified if the Western 
Allies were in the position to fight the campaign on their own 
account and protect Serbia with ample armies. But this assistance, 
as we shall see, the Allies were not in the position to afford in time. 
We crowned our diplomatic failure of the summer by a grave error 
in miUtary judgment. 

Next day, 28th September, the British Foreign Minister made an 
important statement in the House of Commons. As Sir Edward 
Grey's words led to much future controversy, they deserve to be 
quoted in full. 

" My official information from the Bulgarian Government is that 
they have taken up a position of armed neutrality to defend their 
rights and independence, and that they have no aggressive intentions 
whatever against Bulgaria's neighbours. It would, perhaps, be 
well that I should, with the leave of the House, explain quite shortly 
our view of the Balkan situation. Not only is there no hostility in 
this country to Bulgaria, but there is traditionally a warm feeling of 
sympathy for the Bulgarian people. As long, therefore, as Bulgaria 
does not side with the enemies of Great Britain and her Allies there 
can be no question of British influence or forces being used in a sense 
hostile to Bulgarian interests ; and, as long as the Bulgarian attitude 
is unaggressive, there should be no disturbance of friendly relations. 
If, on the other hand, the Bulgarian mobilization were to result in 
Bulgaria assuming an aggressive attitude on the side of our enemies, 
we are prepared to give to our friends in the Balkans all the support 
in our power in the manner that would be most welcome to them, in 
concert with our Allies, without reserve and without qualification." 

This statement left something to be desired in fullness ; but as 
expounded by Sir Edward Grey in a later debate on 2nd November 
it was sufficiently clear, and it cannot have been misunderstood by 


Serbia. It was based on the promise, made along with France, to 
M. Venizelos to send 150,000 men to Salonika to enable Greece to 
fulfil her treaty obligations. The words " without reserve and with- 
out qualification " referred to the fact that so long as there had been 
a hope of Balkan unity the AlUed Powers had urged upon Greece 
and Serbia certain territorial concessions to Bulgaria. But if 
Bulgaria joined the Teutonic League, then all question of con- 
ces?iions disappeared, and the help that the Allies would be prepared 
to give to Greece and Serbia would be granted without quahfica- 
tion or reserve. 

On 25th September the Greek Parhament met. M. Venizelos ex- 
plained that mobihzation was a necessary precaution, and declared 
that in certain contingencies Greece was bound by treaty to assist 
Serbia, though he sincerely hoped that the casus foederis would not 
arise. A bill was introduced for a loan of six million sterling, and 
M. Gounaris, on behalf of the Opposition, tendered his support to 
the Government. On ist October word came that many German 
officers were at Sofia in consultation with the Bulgarian Staff. 
This piece of news, which was no novelty, seems to have convinced 
the Allied Governments at last of Bulgaria's intentions. That 
evening the British Foreign Office issued a statement announcing 
the fact, recalling the precedent of Turkey the year before, and 
declaring that the situation must now be regarded as "of the ut- 
most gravity." Next day, M. Venizelos formally protested against 
the projected AlHed landing at Salonika. It was the kind of 
protest which diplomacy demands from territorial sovereigns, and 
was intended by the Greek Prime Minister to be regarded as an 
assertion of sovereignty for the purpose of record rather than as 
a warning or a threat. Russia now took up the tale. On the 
afternoon of 4th October the Russian Minister at Sofia, M. Savinski, 
handed to M. Radoslavov a note of grave warning against " fratri- 
cidal aggression against a Slav and allied people." To this Bulgaria 
replied at 2.40 p.m. the next day. The reply was unsatisfactory, 
and the Russian Minister notified M. Radoslavov that diplomatic 
relations were at an end, a step in which he was presently followed 
by his French and British colleagues. 

From this day, 5th October, we may date Bulgaria's formal 
entrance into the war. She took some pains to justify her course in 
a long official pamphlet, of which she distributed copies broad- 
cast throughout her towns and villages. It is a curious document. 
Russia, she declared, was fighting for Constantinople and the 
Dardanelles ; France for Alsace-Lorraine ; Britain to ruin Ger- 


many ; Italy, Serbia, and Montenegro for plunder. The Teutonic 
Alliance, on the other hand, fought only to maintain the status quo, 
and to ensure peace and progress for the world. Neutrality in 
the early stages had been advisable. " Neutrality has enabled us 
to bring the miUtary and material preparedness of our army to 
such a pitch as has never before been reached. ' ' The document then 
embarked on economics. Bulgaria's trade interests were insepa- 
rably bound up with Turkey, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. 
Germany had lent Bulgaria money after the Treaty of Bucharest, 
and would in future give her financial support. She would be faced 
with economic collapse unless she took the part of the Central 
Powers. Serbia was discussed in a strain of extreme malevolence. 
She was the eternal enemy, and, since she was Russia's darling, 
Russian and Bulgarian pohcy must stand in conflict. The Western 
AUies had offered no real advantages. They had demanded that 
Bulgaria should place her army unreservedly at their disposal in 
order to take Constantinople and hand it over to Russia ; in return 
she was to receive some paltry territories in Thrace, and some vague 
compensations in Macedonia— these latter only on the under- 
standing that Serbia got all she wanted from Austria. The rewards 
for adhering to the Teutonic League were not specified, but official 
rumour had long been busy expounding their magnificence. These 
appeals were skilful enough, being directed purely to immediate 
self-interest and to the very real soreness against Serbia, and they 
proved that King Ferdinand and his advisers were by no means 
certain of the temper of the country, which still looked to Russia as 
her traditional ally. The effect in Russia of this treason to the 
Slav cause on the part of a nation for which she had fought many 
battles was to arouse a bitter and sorrowful resentment. Radko 
Dmitrieff returned to King Ferdinand his Bulgarian orders and 
renounced his allegiance. A fortnight later, on 19th October, an 
Imperial Manifesto issued in Petrograd denounced the treachery. 

Meanwhile the Allied troops brought from Gallipoh were 
arriving at Salonika. The landing began on 3rd October, and on 
7th October two divisions were on shore. The force was under 
the command of General Sarrail, formerly in charge of the French 
Third Army, and was officially known as the Armee d'Orient. 
Sarrail had come to loggerheads with Joffre, and the new post was 
invented to remove him to a sphere of more distant usefulness 
than the Western Front. The Greek commandant made a formal 
protest, and then directed the harbour of&cials to assist in arrang- 
ing the landing. Greek officers took charge of the Salonika rail- 


way, and displaced the former German and Austrian employees 
of the company. 

On Monday, 4th October, M. Venizelos made a speech in the 
Greek Chamber. He explained that in his view Greece's engage- 
ments to Serbia under her treaty of alHance, as well as the vital 
interests of the country, imposed on her the duty of going to Serbia's 
aid without awaiting a declaration of war by the Central Powers. 
If Bulgaria were suffered to win it would be farewell to Greece's 
hopes of the future. " I can only say that I should feel profound 
regret if, in the performance of my duty in safeguarding the vital 
interests of the country, I should find myself brought into opposi- 
tion with nations with whom I have no direct quarrel. The danger 
of conflict is great, but we shaU none the less fulfil the obligations 
imposed on us by our treaty of alliance." These manly and 
honourable words were the last which M. Venizelos was destined 
to utter as head of the Greek Government, They could have only 
one meaning — that the Greek army in concert with the AUies at 
Salonika, would take the field at once against Bulgaria on Serbia's 
behalf. But next morning the Prime Minister was summoned to 
the Palace, and told by King Constantine that his pohcy had not 
the royal sanction. That afternoon in the Chamber he announced 
his resignation, to the surprise of his countrymen and the con- 
sternation of the AlUes. M. Zaimis, the Governor of the National 
Bank, was entrusted with the task of forming a Cabinet. The 
new Ministry proclaimed its policy as the maintenance, as long as 
events permitted, of a state of armed neutraUty, but a neutrality, 
so far as concerned the Western Allies, "to be characterized by 
the most complete and sincere benevolence." Of this benevolence 
the tacit sanction given to the Salonika landing might be regarded 
as a proof. 

Events now moved swiftly. On 7th October Mackensen 
forced the hne of the rivers, and on Saturday, 9th October, Bel- 
grade fell to Kovess. Two Bulgarian armies, the I. under General 
Bojadieff, and the II. under General Todorov,* were on the 
Serbian frontier. Turkish troops were moving over the Thracian 
borders, and around Dedeagatch. On Monday, the nth, the Bul- 
garian advanced guards crossed the marches, and next day the 
Government of Sofia formally declared war upon Serbia. On 15th 
October Britain declared war upon Bulgaria. The situation at 

• In the First Balkan War he had commanded the 7th Bulgarian Division, 
which marched on Salonika, and so was now employed in the terrain of his earlier 


this date was that more than 200,000 Austro-Germans undef 
Mackensen were pressing southwards from the Save and the Danube 
against the Serbian front ; a quarter of a million Bulgarians were 
moving westwards against Serbia's exposed right flank ; far to 
the south 13,000 French and British troops were in the vicinity 
of Salonika; while Greece and Rumania, fully mobilized, were 
watching their frontiers and waiting upon fortune. The curtain 
had rung up on the tragic drama of Serbia. 

Such is the summary of the events which preceded the new 
Balkan campaign. Two questions deserve further consideration 
—the attitude of Greece and the policy of the Western Allies. 
It is the duty of the historian to look behind the facile condemna- 
tions and criticisms of the man in the street, and attempt to envisage 
the difficulties which faced the Governments concerned. That 
most of these difficulties were due to prior blunders did not make 
them the easier to surmount. Men of the most undoubted honour 
and goodwill may find themselves faced by a puzzle to which there 
is literally no solution, a quandary from which there is no outlet 
except by way of some kind of disaster. 

The dominant motive in Greek policy was fear. On a broad 
survey of the situation there was no answer to the arguments 
adduced by M. Venizelos in his speech in the Chamber on loth 
October after his retirement. He declared his conviction that 
war between Greece and Bulgaria was inevitable in the near future. 
If to-day Greece allowed Serbia to be crushed, in three years' 
time she herself would fall an easy prey. He pointed out, too, 
the results of a Teutonic victory. It would mean the eradication 
of the Hellenic element in Turkey, however loud the German 
assurances to the contrary, and it would be the end of Greece's 
hopes of expansion on the ^Egean httoral. Indeed, it would in 
all hkelihood be the end of Greek nationaUty altogether. Every 
reason of poUcy was in favour of Greece's active adherence to the 
cause of the Allies. There was, further, the obligation to Serbia 
under the Treaty of 1913, but when on nth October Serbia for- 
mally asked Greece for the help for which that treaty provided 
she was refused. The Greek argument * was that since Serbia 
had shown herself willing to concede certain tracts of Macedonia 
to Bulgaria, the purpose for which the treaty was made had dis- 
appeared, and that in any case the treaty referred only to an 

• See M. Zaimis's statement of 29th September 1915, published in the Greek 
White Book, 191 7. 


attack on Serbia by Bulgaria, and not to an invasion by other 
Powers. These were obviously quibbles, and that they should 
have been used by the Greek Government showed the strength 
of its determination to cling to neutrality. The motive of that 
determination was fear. The King, himself allied by marriage with 
the Emperor, was oppressed by the evidence of German power. 
The General Staff had seen the futile result of the summer cam- 
paign in the Dardanelles. It had witnessed Russia being driven 
from post to pillar, while the French and British armies were held 
in the West. Had the Western offensive of 25th September been 
pushed to an indisputable victory things would have been different, 
but that advance seemed now to have reached its limit. Greece 
knew the strength of Bulgaria's fighting force ; she knew the weak- 
ness of the Serbian remnant, and she could not tell what reinforce- 
ments Mackensen might yet bring to the Balkans. Besides, there 
were Turkish reserves who, equipped by Germany, could threaten 
her north-eastern marches. She saw her army of at the most 
350,000 faced by enemies who might presently be twice or three 
times that number. Serbia, with less than 200,000 men, was 
strategically so placed that she must soon be put out of action. 
As for the Western Allies, they were committed to send 150,000 
men, but that contingent would not turn the balance in her favour. 
She had acquired a not unjustifiable distrust of Allied strategy and 
leadership ; it was useless to attempt to bribe her with Cyprus or 
promises of Turkish territory ; before those gifts could materialize 
the enemy must be conquered, and the provision for his conquest 
was not apparent. Her only course, she argued, was to remain 
neutral, and wait upon events. She did not fear the vindictive- 
ness of the Allies, should they be victorious ; but she considered 
that the Teutonic League, if it won the campaign, would exact 
from her the uttermost vengeance if she had taken action against it. 

These were not exalted or very far-sighted considerations, but 
they determined the decision of her Government, sorely perplexed 
about the future. They were not the views of the greatest Greek, 
M. Venizelos, but probably they were the views of the majority 
of the Greek peopie. For, as has already been pointed out, it was 
idle to expect from the little Balkan States any prescient or 
continuous policy. Like all lately-born peasant democracies, they 
tended to cultivate the immediate advantage, and to be obsessed 
by the immediate peril. 

The question of Allied policy falls under two heads — the 
diplomacy before the crisis, and the military plan when diplomacy 


had failed. In any criticism it is fair to remember the extraordinary 
difficulties which faced the Foreign Offices of France and Britain. 
Since May the successes, the definite, tangible successes, had 
been all on the German side. They could point to nothing to sel 
off against the triumphant sweep from the Donajetz to the Sereth, 
from the Vistula to the Dvina. In dealing with hesitating neutrals 
they were heavily handicapped. It was like a game of bridge in 
which a player has never in his hand a card which can take a trick. 
Again, in the case of the Balkan States, there was this special 
difficulty — that each state was at heart as jealous of its neighbour 
and prospective ally as of the Power which we sought to persuade 
them was the common enemy. Undoubtedly, before the Russian 
debacle began, Bulgaria might have been brought in on the Allied 
side. Had Serbia been wiUing, say, in April 1915, to cede to 
Bulgaria with immediate occupation the disputed territory in 
Macedonia, Bulgaria would have been won over. But this Serbia 
obstinately refused to do ; in reply to their appeals the Allies 
were told that the Serbians would sooner fight the Bulgarians 
than the Austrians ; so the blame for some part of Serbia's mis- 
fortunes must rest on her own shoulders. When she proved amen- 
able to persuasion it was already too late. Russia had suffered 
her disaster, and the glamour of German prowess had fallen upon 

It may fairly be said, therefore, that the Allied diplomacy was 
confronted with a most intricate problem. It is easy to be wise 
after the event ; but, looking back over the course of twelve months, 
it would seem that its solution, though hard, was not impossible. 
The importance of the Balkans was recognized too late, and a 
strong and consistent policy was not adopted in time. It is diffi- 
cult not to beUeve that prior to ist May Bulgaria could have been 
won, if the AUies had insisted clearly upon certain concessions from 
Serbia and Greece. They had the power to insist if they had had 
the will. After that date they failed to recognize that Bulgaria 
was lost, and persisted up to ist October in efforts at conciliation 
which were doomed to failure. From May onward there was only 
one argument which could prevail upon King Ferdinand, and that 
was fear. Since we could not make Bulgaria our ally she must be 
isolated. Had we in July, when there was already evidence of 
Bulgarian intentions, sent to Salonika the six divisions which went 
later to GallipoU, it is more than likely that Bulgaria would have 
yielded, and, at the worst, we should have been able to attach 
Greece to our side and give Serbia adequate assistance in the 


hour of invasion. We underrated the importance of the Balkans 
from the first. History will record that our difhculties were 
great, but that they were surmountable, and that they were not 

The question of military policy raises once again the old sub- 
ject of divergent operations. Our preoccupation with the GalU- 
poli campaign blinded our eyes to what was happening farther 
west on the mainland, and fettered our hands. Had we been able 
to place a force of 300,000 men at Salonika early in September we 
should have been in a position to help Serbia effectually, and wage 
a campaign with some chance of success. That chance had gone 
utterly by 6th October. Why, then, was the expedition persisted 
in ? It was idle to talk about our prestige in the East. That 
could not be served by a second disaster on the ^gean shores. 
To achieve anything we must send at least three times our projected 
force, and that could be got only by depleting the Western front. 
There we had instituted an ambitious offensive, an offensive which 
to succeed must continue without intermission till the enemy's 
lines were broken. But if we took away sufficient troops to achieve 
anything in the Balkans, that offensive must be suspended ; and 
if we did not send an adequate force to the Near East it would be 
far wiser to send none. Moreover, it meant the establishment of 
a new and vulnerable line of sea communications at a time when 
we had no shipping to spare. It was the worst type of vicious circle. 
Every military consideration, therefore, pointed to the abstention 
from any further divergent adventures. Such in the end of Sep- 
tember was the view of the French General Staff, and on 9th 
October the British General Staff drafted a memorandum against 
the Salonika expedition, since it was then too late to help Serbia. 
This led to Sir Edward Carson's resignation on 12th October, on 
the ground that we were not fulfilling our debt of honour. Next 
day M. Delcasse resigned for the opposite reason, believing that 
any expedition to the Balkans was indefensible. Of the two 
distinguished statesmen, M. Delcasse from a military point of view 
liad the better argument. With far too few men, in a country 
where transport difficulties were great and demanded a complete 
re-equipment, we proposed to make a diversion on behalf of a 
gallant ally, whom no diversion could save. The true blow for 
the re-creation of Serbia could only be struck on the Western 

But no war can be conducted solely by military science. There 
were reasons which made some effort on Serbia's behalf, however 


belated, a political necessity. We had promised assistance to 
that little nation, and every Serbian counted on our aid. Even 
if we were too late to save her, public honour seemed to demand 
that we should try. That, at any rate, was the view of the ordinary 
man in France and Britain, and in addition there were responsible 
statesmen in both countries who believed that French and British 
prestige in the Moslem world was at stake, and that, however 
disadvantageous the enterprise on purely military grounds, some 
kind of attempt must be made to check the German sweep to the 
Bosphorus. The latter view was rather a sentiment than a 
reasoned opinion ; but the former — the point of honour — had real 
substance. An act of public disloyalty might be more damaging 
in the long run to the Allied cause than a rash adventure. A man 
who refrains from rushing to the help of a friend who is attacked in 
a street brawl is scarcely justified by the plea that he had followed 
the wiser course of going off to fetch the police. This view — to 
the credit of their hearts — soon obtained a great predominance 
among the Western Allies. In France and Britain there was much 
criticism — often bitter and unfair — of our diplomatic failure. 
The French Government became strong converts to the necessity 
of a Balkan expedition, and the French General Staff unwillingly 
followed suit. 

In such circumstances it was inevitable that the correct mili- 
tary view must be overridden. The great Western offensive 
slackened, for, apart from the fact that divisions must be taken 
from that front, the mind of the High Command was compelled 
to divide its interests. The British 22nd, 27th, and 28th 
Divisions were dispatched to Salonika, and the Indian Corps to 
the Tigris. In the beginning of October the Allies were resolved 
to do something, but they had no very clear idea as to what 
that something should be. Few undertakings in history have been 
started in so complete a fog of indecision. The situation in the 
Near East, already sufficiently tangled, was to be compUcated by 
a new sporadic effort, not undertaken as part of a considered 
plan, but the offspring of a sudden necessity. 



September 19, igi$-January 25, 1916. 

Serbia's Military Position — Mackensen's Problem — ^The Advance of Gallwitz and 
Kovess — Bulgaria's Flank Attack — Fall of Uskub — Fall of Nish — The Serbian 
Retreat to the Adriatic — The Allies in Salonika — The Austrian Conquest of 

The military situation which confronted Serbia in the second 
week of October was simplicity itself. There were no elements of 
hopeful doubt to relieve the darkness of her outlook. In modern 
war, unless the difference of quality is immense, it is numbers that 
win, and her numbers were few. Her great losses in the battles 
of 1914 had brought down her armed strength, allowing for the 
use of every available man, to less than 200,000, and her enemies 
already in the field could more than double her maximum. More- 
over, her successes had impaired her defensive power. Thrice 
she had been invaded, and three times in heroic battles she had 
flung back the invader. But her country had been devastated, 
and she had been hard put to it to restore the common machinery 
of life. Then had come pestilence and famine, and throughout 
the spring of 1915 she had been fighting a sterner enemy than the 
Austrian. Her peasant soldiers had been compelled to return home 
to prevent their farms going out of cultivation, and throughout 
the summer she was singularly unprepared for a state at war with 
mighty neighbours. She was unable to take that offensive which 
is commonly the best method of defence, and was compelled per- 
force to put her trust in her Allies. The earlier invasions she had 
repelled unaided, but now she had to look beyond her borders for 
security. She was better munitioned than before the Battle of 
the Ridges ; but in other military assets she was weaker. Her 
soldiers were very tired, and her generals were in the difficulty 



that, cognisant of great dangers, they simply could not frame an 
adequate plan to meet them. Her victories had given her a noble 
self-confidence ; but her position forbade her to reap the fruits of 
it, and compelled her to rely on others. 

To this weakness from the depletion and the disorganization of 
her armies was added the greater danger of a hopeless strategic 
quandary. Being a salient, she had the enemy on three sides of 
her. Her northern front of some 150 miles was held, by the deci- 
sion of the British Government, by her main armies. Her eastern 
flank of nearly 300 miles marched through most of its length with 
Bulgaria. Her western flank for more than 100 miles adjoined 
unfriendly Bosnia ; then for a little came the protection of Mon- 
tenegro ; but the southern part was bounded by Albania, which 
was at least potentially hostile. If the Serbian army were forced 
back in the north it could retire by the valleys of the Morava and 
the Vardar towards Salonika. By these valleys, which were 
followed by roads and railways, Serbia could receive supplies from 
the Allied base on the sea. If the only force was Mackensen's, 
she might well hope to stand on the ridges behind the northern 
plain, as she had stood nine months before, and hold the invader. 
But with Bulgaria on her flank the situation was wholly changed. 
The Bulgarian right, moving against the Timok valley, must 
sooner or later join hands with Mackensen, and force the Serbians 
south and west of the Constantinople railway. Such a position 
would be serious, but not desperate, for a stand might still be made 
on the hills of the upper Morava, and communication kept open 
with Salonika. But in the south the Bulgarian frontier came very 
close to the vital railway from the sea. Vrania was only twenty 
miles off. Strumnitza station was less, and the nodal point of 
Uskub was only fifty. It would be an easy task for the Bulgarian 
southern armies to cut the line. Once that happened there was 
no way of provisioning the Serbian forces except by the difficult 
hill paths of Albania and the Black Mountain. There was no way 
of retreat for them except into the wild recesses of the coastal 
ranges and the gorges of the Black and White Drin. Once such a 
retreat was compelled, Serbia would be overrun and the Serbian 
army put out of action. 

The one desperate chance was that the Allies at Salonika 
might be able to turn the Bulgarian flank, and protect the railway 
at any rate as far as Uskub. That would allow of a stand on 
the Une of the Ibar and the upper Morava. The Serbians were 
confident that this would happen. Indeed, in the early days of 


October they looked for Allied assistance even on their northern 
front. At Nish the town was decorated, and the school chUdren 
waited outside the station with bouquets to present to the coming 
reinforcements. But the Allies could not come. They were too 
few and too far away. 

The Serbian campaign therefore falls into two sections wholly 
distinct and unrelated. The first is the expulsion from their 
native land of the Serbian army. The second is the contest of 
the Allied army of Salonika against the Bulgarian left wing for 
the hundred miles of line northward from the port, and their 
ultimate retirement to a fortified Une near the sea. The stand of 
the Serbians, it may fairly be said, was in no material sense aided 
by the Franco-British operations. They fought their hopeless 
battle alone, and in that fact is to be found the failure of the 
Allied strategical plan. 


Mackensen's immediate objective was both strategically and 
tactically simple. The motive was to win a way to Constantinople, 
and two routes were possible — the Danube and the Ottoman 
railway. To secure the first it was necessary to cross the river on 
the front from Belgrade to Orsova close to the Rumanian frontier, 
and to master that narrow neck of north-eastern Serbia about 
forty miles wide between Milanovatz, on the Danube, and the mouth 
of the Timok. That would give him the whole length of the 
river now commanded by Serbia. The advantage of the river 
route was inadequately appreciated at the time in the West. 
Before the Ottoman railway could be used there must be a consider- 
able amount of campaigning ; the great bridge over the Save 
must be repaired, which had been blown up by the Serbians a 
year before ; and bridges and embankments must be restored 
between Belgrade and the Bulgarian frontier. But to master 
the river was an easy task. Once Belgrade was taken the opera- 
tions of the British Naval Mission would be at an end. As soon 
as the Serbians were driven from their position on the southern 
shore, the mines could be swept up, and there could be a clear 
waterway to the Bulgarian railheads connecting with the Con- 
stantinople line. On the northern bank there were a number of 
Austrian railheads, all provided with sidings, quays, and loading 
gear. For the river transport there were available flotillas of 
Austrian passenger steamers and tug-boats and thousands of 


barges. The Danube Steam Navigation Company alone could 
supply more than a hundred passenger steamers and over six 
hundred tugs. The concentration of Mackensen's army was 
largely effected by waterways, since a river convoy could load up 
wherever a railway touched the Danube or the Theiss. Again, 
the Danube was connected by excellent canals with the Elbe and 
the Rhine. In forwarding supplies by canal the slowness of 
transit, as compared to raJways, was of Uttle consequence once a 
steady stream of barges had been started. As much stuff as could 
be handled would be delivered each day at the farther end. It 
was possible for barges to be loaded at the great munition factories 
of the middle Rhine and pass through to the lower Danube without 
breaking bulk. While Mackensen was clearing the Serbian bank 
thousands of loaded freighters were accumulating between Semlin 
and Budapest, ready to go forward as soon as the river was 
open. There was the further gain in using the riverway that the 
convoys would not return empty, but would bring back to Aus- 
tria and Germany suppUes of Bulgarian and Rumanian meat 
and corn. 

The second route to the Bosphorus would be slower to win. 
It involved the capture of Belgrade and the ridges to the south of 
it, and an advance to the south-east which would clear the Morava 
valley up to Nish and the tributary Nishava valley as far as the 
Bulgarian frontier. To secure both routes the German plan of 
campaign was one of converging attacks. On the south-west 
Albanian bands would threaten the Prishtina and Prizrend region 
on the Serbian left rear. On the west an Austrian force, operating 
from the Bosnian bases, would assault the Hne of the Drina. On 
the north were Mackensen's two armies. Gallwitz lay on the left 
from Orsova to a point opposite Semendria, and Kovess on the 
right, facing Belgrade and the lower Save. The eastern Serbian 
frontier was entrusted to the Bulgarians. Bojadieff's army 
covered the country from the mouth of the Timok to the Ottoman 
railway ; Todorov's from that railway to the neighbourhood of 
Strumnitza. The Bulgarian attack had five main objectives. 
The extreme right was directed across the Timok to enable Gall- 
witz to clear the Danube. The right centre moved on Zaichar and 
the Timok, and was intended to follow the branch line to Parachin, 
on the Constantinople railway. The centre advanced on Pirot 
and Nish. The left centre moved from Kustendil against Vrania 
and Uskub — the most vital points in the Serbian communications. 
On the extreme left there was an advance from Strumnitza to cut 


the railway in the Vardar valley, the point at which during the 
past year Bulgarian bands on at least two occasions had made 
attempts on the line. The Bulgarian left and left centre had also 
the task of opposing any movement of the Allies from Salonika. 

A plan which involved at least nine converging lines of attack 
demanded a very great numerical superiority and an enemy in- 
capable of a dangerous offensive. These conditions were realized. 
General Putnik, the old Serbian field-marshal, could muster less 
than half the strength of his enemy. The poverty of Serbia's 
communications prevented him following the natural strategy 
of a defence on interior lines, and striking at one or more of the 
widely separated invaders. He was compelled to remain rigidly 
on the defensive, and on a partial defensive. His main forces 
were strung along the river front in the north — thin in the centre, 
where Belgrade was held by less than two divisions, but stronger on 
the wings, where a turning movement was feared. Mishitch com- 
manded the First Army, as he had done in the December Battle of 
the Ridges, and held the angle of the Save and the Drina. On 
the right the Third Army, under Yourashitch, protected the 
valley of the Morava, and faced Gallwitz and the Bulgarian right. 
A small detachment lay at Ushitza to watch the menace from 
Bosnia against the left rear. On the eastern frontier there was a 
force facing the Timok valley, and protecting Nish was the Second 
Army, under Stepanovitch. It is obvious that such a disposition 
was in no way adequate to meet all the converging dangers. Serbia 
was compelled to leave the defence of the eastern frontier, which 
was threatened by far the most formidable foe, to her Allies, in 
the hope that they would be in time. If that hope failed, the 
most heroic stand in the north would be futile. 

Life in Belgrade during the spring and summer had been 
curiously peaceful for a frontier city in time of war. Admiral 
Troubridge's Naval Mission with its armed launches did much 
destructive work at night against the Austrian monitors, issuing 
from the river quays as in old days the Illyrian pirate galleys 
issued from the screen of the Dalmatian Islands. The city was 
bombarded methodically at long range from the northern shore, 
but there seems to have been a clearly defined danger zone. Bel- 
grade lies on a ridge which slopes up from the Save and the Danube, 
and, while in the riverside streets shells dropped and the houses 
were in ruins, in the upper thoroughfares life went on and the 
citizens took the air as usual. In those fantastic days it was 
possible for a visitor to dine at his hotel, drive in a cab to the 


quays, embark in a launch, spend the midnight hours in a spirited 
naval action, and return to his bed before morning. 

On the afternoon of 19th September Kovess's batteries opened 
against Belgrade, and battle was joined all along the river line. 
At first the invaders made little progress, for their big guns had not 
yet come up and their infantry was not ready. But in the first 
days of October the situation changed. Bulgaria was mustering, 
the guns had arrived from Poland, and on 3rd October the first 
shots were fired in the real bombardment. It was such a " prep- 
aration " as had preceded the May onslaught on the Donajetz, or 
the September advance in the West. The Serbians had nothing 
of the same calibre with which to reply, and their positions on the 
south bank were slowly pounded into dust. Under cover of the 
guns both Gallwitz and Kovess attempted crossings — the former 
at Semendria, Ram, and Graditze ; the latter at Shabatz, Obre- 
novatz, and especially at Ciglania Island, in the Save, just above 
Belgrade. Gallwitz was aiming at the Morava valley, Kovess at 
the capital. 

On the 7th both Save and Danube were crossed, the latter at 
Belgrade itself. The immense weight of artillery fire made the 
city untenable, and on the 8th the Serbians began to evacuate it. 
During the day fierce fighting continued at the quays and the 
lower part of the town, but by the evening the Citadel and the 
royal palace had been taken. There was a desperate guerrilla 
struggle in some of the streets, and it was not till the morning of 
the 9th that Kovess had the whole place in his hands. He found 
little booty, except some old guns, for the pieces of the British 
Naval Mission were either destroyed or got away in time. His 
artillery had played havoc with the capital, and the German flag 
floated over a desolation. But it had been a calculated destruc- 
tion, for the railway station was left intact. 

On the left Mishitch, who had the best troops of the Serbian 
army under his command, managed to check any torrential cross- 
ing of the Save, At Shabatz, at Prograrska Island, and at Zabrej, 
he held the enemy for several days. But Gallwitz by this time 
had overcome the resistance of the Serbian right. He crossed at 
Semendria, at Ram, and near Graditze. Here, on the south bank, 
at the mouth of the valleys of the Mlava and Morava, for a 
little there were stubborn encounters. But the Serbians were 
gradually driven back to Pojarevatz, and on the nth Berlin 
announced that one hundred miles of front from Shabatz to 
Graditze, on the south bank of the Save and Danube, had been won. 


Next day Bulgaria formally entered the war, having waited 
till she was assured of Mackensen's abiUty to force the line of the 
rivers, and with that event Gallwitz's left wing in the neighbour- 
hood of Orsova came into action. The Serbian position was now 
somewhat as follows : — Mishitch, on the left, was being forced 
slowly back from the Save towards the foothills of the Tser range, 
where a year before the Serbian army had made their first stand 
against the third Austrian invasion. His communications were 
bad, and he was in danger of having his flanks turned by the 
Austrian crossing of the Drina, and by the drive of Kovess's centre. 
The Serbian centre had fallen back from Belgrade to the foothills 
in the south, and had taken up position on the ridge called Avala, 
seven miles from the capital. The Serbian right, under Youras- 
hitch, was being forced across the riverside plain from Semendria 
to Graditze, up the valleys of the Morava and the Mlava. For 
some days Mackensen moved slowly. It was not the lack of 
heavy artillery as had been the case two weeks before, because he 
had now his full complement of guns. It was in pursuance of a 
sound strategical plan. He must not press the Serbians too far 
south till Bulgaria had time to take them in flank and rear. 

On the 1 2th Bojadieff attacked in two columns against Zaichar 
and Kniashevatz, while his right moved against Negotin in the 
lower Timok valley. At first the Serbian army of the Timok held 
the invaders, but two days later Pojarevatz fell to Gallwitz, and 
Bojadieff took the heights east of Kniashevatz. Next day Kovess 
drove the Serbian centre from the hills of Avala. On Sunday, 
the 17th, there was a concerted attack all along the eastern frontier. 
The day before the Salonika Une had been cut by cavalry raiders 
at Vrania, and on the Sunday Todorov's centre from Kustendil 
captured Egri Palanka, while Bojadieff forced a crossing on the 
lower Tunok. The enemy now commanded Vrania, and communi- 
cations between Nish and Salonika were suspended. The last 
train which ran, conveying the property of the Serbian National 
Bank, passed through a battlefield, and arrived at the coast pock- 
marked with rifle bullets. Meanwhile Stepanovitch was being 
forced down the Nishava valley from Pirot by the Bulgarian 
centre. In the north Obrenovatz had fallen, and the line of the 
Save was clear for the invader. 

Events now moved fast. The Allies were fighting their own 
battle in the south, which we shall presently consider. They were 
altogether cut off from the Serbians, though twenty miles north 
of them a Serbian detachment was falling back before the Bui- 

1915] LOSS OF USKUB. 365 

garian advance on Veles. In the week beginning Monday, the 
i8th, the chief effort was made by Todorov's II. Army. Veles, or 
Kuprulu, fell on the 20th, and on the 22nd, late in the afternoon, 
the Bulgarians entered Uskub, the nodal point of all the routes of 
southern Serbia. The advance was swift, for the simple reason 
that there was nothing to stop it. All the considerable Serbian 
armies were in the north, and the Allies from Salonika were too 
late to do more than check the extreme left of the Bulgarian move- 
ment. Had they been earlier on the scene, the long narrow gorge 
through which the railway ran north of Vrania might have given 
them a strong position in which to hold the enemy. 

The loss of Uskub was a misfortune of the first magnitude. 
It cut off all communication between the Vardar and Morava 
valleys. It blocked the routes to Prilep and Monastir in the 
south, and the access to Kossovo and Novi Bazar in the north by 
the Katchanik Pass. The outlook for Serbia was black indeed, 
and she made a last despairing appeal to the Allies for aid. Through- 
out the land a mass of fugitives of every age and condition was 
fleeing distractedly by the few routes left open to the south-west. 
Nish was a beleaguered city. Food was scarce, and vehicles could 
hardly be obtained for love or money. By Tuesday, the 26th, 
disaster had followed disaster. On the Saturday Gallwitz's left 
had forced the passage of the Danube at Orsova, on the Rumanian 
border, the western opening of the defile known as the Iron Gate. 
The Germans crossed by the island below the town, and took the 
steep wooded heights on the southern shore which commanded 
all the bend of the river. That same day Negotin fell to Bojadieff's 
right, and the town of Prahovo, where the Bulgarians seized large 
quantities of supplies which had come up the river for the Serbians. 
These victories opened to Germany the Danube route to Con- 
stantinople. Gallwitz had also pushed some way up the Morava, 
and was in line with Kovess, who had occupied Valjevo. In the 
west the Austrians had forced the Drina at Vishegrad, and were 
threatening Ushitza. There was no chance of the Serbians retriev- 
ing their fortunes, as they had done a year before, by a stand on 
the ridges of Maljen and Suvobor. That position was already 
turned, with the Bulgarians pressing westward from Timok and 
Pirot. The line of the upper Timok still held, but it, too, was 
outflanked on south and west. The only route for withdrawal, 
if the army was to be saved, was by the long valley of the Ibar 
for their northern forces, and for the southern detachments by the 
ancient roads to the Adriatic from Prizrend and from Monastir. 


But there was little time to lose, for the Austrians moving on 
Ushitza, and the Bulgarians pushing west from Vrania and Uskub, 
might cut at the roots of the sahent. Moreover, the army of 
Stepanovitch, on the upper Timok, was in an ugly salient of its own. 
On Tuesday, the 26th, the Austrians from Orsova and the 
Bulgarians from Prahovo joined hands, and the whole north-east 
corner of Serbia was in the enemy's possession. Next day Zaichar 
and Kniashevatz fell at last after a heroic defence, and the Hne 
of the Timok was gone. The main Serbian position now lay 
roughly through Kragujevatz, the arsenal, and Parachin, on the 
railway, and encircled Nish, with its right at Leskovatz. On the 
28th Pirot fell, and Gallwitz, advancing up the Morava valley, 
made many prisoners. The Austro-Germans in their progress 
distinguished themselves by their brutality to the civilian popula- 
tion — brutality which had a direct military object. If they could 
produce a panic among the inhabitants, and cause a wholesale 
flight, the few roads would be encumbered with fleeing households, 
and the retreat of the Serbian army and guns would be hopelessly 
impeded. On Saturday, the 30th, Kragujevatz was taken. There 
was little left in it for the victors, only half a dozen old field pieces 
and some thousands of damaged rifles. We may now regard the 
Serbians as forming two forces. One, the remnant of the Armies 
of the North, lay from south of Kragujevatz to the north and east 
of Nish. The second and lesser was in the hills north of Monastir. 
The two were hopelessly isolated by the Bulgarian advance from 
Uskub towards Prishtina. The retirement of the first was by the 
hill roads and the Ibar valley into Montenegro, that of the second 
into the mountains of central Albania. Had they been faced by 
Germans alone with their heavy ordnance they would have had a 
reasonable chance of escape, for Mackensen had taken forty days 
to cover an average of forty miles ; but in the Bulgarians they had 
opponents as skilled as themselves in marching and fighting in a 
mountain country. On the last day of October the main Serbian 
force was for a moment out of danger, for the Austrians seemed 
unable to advance towards Ushitza ; but Stepanovitch's army 
defending Nish was in an acute and dangerous salient. 

Stepanovitch won clear, but by the narrowest margin. The 
final attack on Nish began on 3rd November, and after three days 
of severe fighting, it fell on the 5th. The Serbians retired on 
Leskovatz, and north of Nish, half-way between Parachin and 
Zaichar, the Germans and the Bulgarians again joined hands. 
The Northern Army was now in full retreat, for the enemy had 


enclosed it in a half-moon, of which the horns were hourly bending 
inwards. There was no more fighting for Mishitch, Yourashitch, 
and Stepanovitch. The last action before the complete concjuest 
of Serbia was fought by the small forces in the south in a des- 
pairing effort to stem the Bulgarian advance from Uskub upon 
Prizrend and Monastir. These battles of the passes were for 
King Peter's remnant the Kossovo of the campaign. 

North-west of Uskub, crossing the low Katchanik Pass, a rail- 
way ran to Mitrovitza. Already the Serbian main army on the 
Ibar was getting desperately short of ammunition. They had 
shot away most of their supplies, and if any more were to reach 
them it must be from the south by way of Monastir, Prizrend, 
and Prishtina, for even if there had been stores at the Albanian 
ports the Albanian roads were too long and difficult. Moreover, 
if the Bulgarians advanced beyond the Katchanik and reached the 
railhead at Mitrovitza, there would be a good chance of envelop- 
ing and cutting off the army on the Ibar. If the retirement was 
to be made at all, it was necessary to hold the Katchanik till the 
latest possible moment. Five thousand men, the remnant of the 
Uskub garrison, in the last days of October made a stand on the 
hills at the Uskub end of the pass. The Serbians had their guns 
on the heights, and enough ammunition for a battle of several 
days. Three regiments had been sent down by Putnik from the 
north to act as reinforcements, and the order ran at all costs 
to hold the enemy. The Bulgarians advanced on a fifteen-mile 
front with a strength of two and a half divisions. They were in 
the form of a crescent, with their left in the plain of Tetovo, and 
their right across the Uskub-Mitrovitza line. At first the Serbian 
bombardment drove back the enemy several miles from his ad- 
vanced position. On the third day their infantry attacked with 
the bayonet and bombs. All night the battle raged, and after a 
struggle of twelve hours the Bulgarian front was pierced by one 
division. But by that time the enemy had more than doubled 
his strength. He re-formed behind the gap, and the horns of his 
front began to envelop the small Serbian force. It was the situa- 
tion of the Romans at Cannae, and the Serbian centre was slowly 
driven back, till the peril on the flanks compelled a rapid retreat. 
Fighting desperately, and taking heavy toll of the enemy, they 
retired across the pass to join the retreating Army of the North. 
But their stand had given Putnik the respite he had sought, and 
before Mitrovitza was threatened the retreat was moving up the 
hill roads to the Montenegrin plain of Ipek. 


The stand at the Babuna Pass was of a different kind. Its 
primary aim was to bar the way to Monastir, for once the Bul- 
garians were at Prilep the roads from Monastir northward would 
be shut to possible supplies. But it had also an offensive purpose. 
If the Allies could retake Veles, Uskub would be threatened, and 
the dangerous Bulgarian operations towards Mitrovitza would be 
checked. The Babuna Pass, a little over 2,000 feet high, is on 
the road from Uskub to Prilep. Some 5,000 Serbians held the 
heights commanding the northern approach, where in the first 
days of November they repulsed the assault of a Bulgarian division, 
and drove it back as far as Izvor, which is about a dozen miles 
on the road from Veles. But only an advanced guard of the 
enemy had been checked. Todorov's main force poured down 
from the Veles front, and presently the Serbian handful had the 
better part of four divisions before them. For a week and more 
the crest of the Babuna Pass was still held, but the failure of the 
Allies farther south, and the Bulgarian capture of the Mitrovitza 
line, made the position untenable. The Serbians fell back towards 
the Albanian borders, and the campaign, so far as that valiant 
army was concerned, was over. They had fought most gallantly 
a losing fight, in which they never for one moment could hope to 
succeed. They had lost greatly in guns and men, and it is not 
likely that more than 150,000 weary and famished warriors sought 
the shelter of the highlands. It was an army still in being, but 
only a shadow of that heroic force which a year ago had flung the 
Austrians across the Danube. Before the middle of November 
the paths which climb from the upper glens of the Vardar, the 
Morava, and the Ibar were littered with the bullock-carts of the 
transport and plodding soldiers, who halted now and then to take 
a last look behind them at their hills of home. 

After the fall of Nish, Mackensen's interest in the campaign 
slackened. He had got what he set out to get — the Danube 
route and the Ottoman railway ; he had put the Serbian army 
out of action ; the campaign was now in Bulgarian hands, a 
campaign of long-cherished and bitter revenge. By the middle 
of November fighting had ceased through Serbia, save in the far 
south, where the Allied contingent was holding the gorge of the 
Vardar. The Serbian remnant was straining westward by every 
hill road which led to Montenegro and Albania. That strange 
migration was not only the retreat of an army but the flight of a 
people. The weaker and poorer fugitives were left behind in the 
foothills ; but many women and children struggled on, cumbering 


the infrequent roads and suffering untold privations, till they 
reached the shores of the Adriatic. The campaigns had already 
shown great national dispersions — the flight from Belgium, the 
move of the Russian Poles eastward ; and it had shown the retire- 
ment of mighty armies — from the Meuse to the Marne, from the 
Vistula to the Dvina. But no army in retreat and no people in 
flight had ever sought a city of refuge through so inhospitable a 
desert. The stony ridges of the coastal mountains were already 
deep in snow. The few roads were tracks which led over high 
passes and through narrow gorges beside flooded torrents. The 
Albanian tribes were eager to profit from the misery of the fugi- 
tives. If they sold food it was at a famine price, and they lay 
in wait, Uke the Spanish guerrillas in the Peninsula, to cut off 
stragglers. At the end of the journey was a barren giea-coast with 
few harbours, and between it and Italy lay the Adriatic, sown 
with enemy mines and searched by enemy submarines. 

Mishitch's First Army and the detachment which had held 
Belgrade retreated by the upper glens of the Ibar to the little 
plain of Ipek, which is tucked away among the Montenegrin hills. 
Thence they made their way through the land of the Black Moun- 
tain to Skutari. Yourashitch's Third Army fell back upon Prish- 
tina, whence they moved to Prizrend on the Albanian border. They 
then tramped down the White Drin to its junction with the Black, 
and while a portion followed the river to Skutari, the majority went 
south by the Black Drin to Dibra, and made their way by Struga 
to Elbasan, and so to Durazzo. Stepanovitch's Second Army 
followed much the same course, concentrating on Prizrend ; and 
the Uskub garrison, after it had been driven from the Babuna 
Pass, moved straight by way of Ochrida upon Elbasan. The 
peculiar difficulty of the retreat for the southern armies lay in 
the fact that the Bulgarians, after the success at Katchanik and 
Babuna, had cut the route from Prizrend southward, and so forced 
the Serbians, in order to reach Elbasan, to make the journey on 
Albanian soil among the wild ravines of the Black Drin. Few of 
the guns got away. Many reached Ipek, where they were destroyed 
and abandoned, since the paths west of Prizrend were only for 
foot travellers lightly burdened. Every hour of the retirement 
was a nightmare. The hill roads were strewn with fainting and 
starving men, and the gorges of the two Drins found their solitude 
disturbed by other sounds than the angry rivers. Happily the 
conditions which made the retreat so hard imposed discretion upon 
the pursuit. The German armies took no part in the chase. They 


were busy repairing the Orient railway, and getting ready to enter 
the country of their new alHes. But the Bulgarians pressed the 
pursuit hard, and, had the land been more practicable, and had 
they occupied Struga and Elbasan, they might have cut off at 
least one-half of the Serbian force. But the time was too short, 
and the Serbians were well on the way to Durazzo before the 
Bulgarian advanced guards had entered Albania. 

One other piece of good fortune attended the retreat. Essad 
Pasha, who after many vicissitudes had made for himself a little 
Albanian kingdom after the flight of the ill-fated Prince of Wied, 
declared himself on the side of the Allies, He expelled all Austrian 
and Bulgarian subjects from the territories under his control, and 
gave to the Teutonic agents who appeared in December to stir up 
the northern tribes a taste of Albanian justice. He did his best 
to welcome the fugitives and assist the efforts of the British, 
French, and Italian missions to prepare for their reception. These 
efforts were made in the face of immense difficulties. Food was 
sent by Britain and France, and Italy provided the shipping. It 
was necessary to bring the Serbian remnant to Durazzo, and for 
this purpose jetties had to be built, rivers and marshes had to be 
bridged, and roads had to be repaired and constructed. Italian 
troops arrived at Durazzo from Avlona on 21st December, to 
provide a rallying point. In one way and another nearly 130,000 
men of the Serbian army were brought to the coast in safety. 
The civilian refugees went for the most part to southern Italy. 

King Peter himself had a journey of strange vicissitudes. 
Travelling in a rude Macedonian cart he reached Prizrend with 
his troops, and then pressed on to Liuma, across the Albanian 
border. Thence he set out incognito, accompanied by three 
officers and four soldiers, and journeyed on muleback and horse- 
back through the hills held by the Albanian Catholic tribes. After 
four days he reached Skutari, where he rested for a fortnight, 
and then continued along the coast by San Giovanni di Medua, 
Alessio, and Durazzo to Avlona. He crossed to Brindisi, and 
remained there six days unrecognized. Then he took ship to 
Salonika, and arrived there on New Year's Day, crippled with 
rheumatism and all but blind, but undefeated in spirit. His was 
a character with many flaws, but he shared the stubborn courage 
of his people. If his country was for the moment lost, he had 
sought the nearest camp of its future deliverers. " I believe in 
the liberty of Serbia," he said, " as I believe in God. It was the 
dream of my youth. It was for that I fought throughout man- 


hood. It has become the faith of the twUight of my Ufa. I live 
only to see Serbia free. I pray that God may let me live until the 
day of redemption of my people. On that day I am ready to die, 
if the Lord wills. I have struggled a great deal in my life, and am 
tired, bruised, and broken from it ; but I will see — I shall see— 
this triumph. I shall not die before the victory of my country." 


The landing of the Allies at Salonika, which began on 5th Octo- 
ber, was completed in three days, largely by the assistance of M. 
Diamantidis, the Greek Minister of Transport, whose co-operation 
was the last administrative act of M. Venizelos's Government. 
The French 2nd Division from Cape Helles arrived first, and en- 
camped a mile and a half from the town. Then came the British, 
Sir Bryan Mahon's loth (Irish) Division from Suvla. General 
Sarrail arrived on the 12th ; but at this time the command at 
Salonika was not unified, the British and French forces being 
under their own generals. The French were the first-comers, and, 
apparently, the most ready for the field, so without delay they were 
moved up country. The aim of Sarrail was to make contact with 
the Serbian force in the Uskub neighbourhood before the Bul- 
garians completely outflanked and isolated it on the south. For 
this purpose he must secure the railway, if possible, as far as Veles. 
The line, a single grass-grown track which followed the windings of 
the Vardar, showed one point of especial danger. Ninety miles 
from Salonika, north of Strumnitza station, the Vardar flowed 
through a narrow gorge, called Demir Kapu, or the Iron Gate. 
At the mouth of the pass the railway crossed to the left bank of 
the river, and followed it on that side through the ravine, return- 
ing to the right bank where the valley widened out beyond the 
narrows. The Iron Gate thus involved two bridges, a tunnel a 
hundred yards long, and ten miles where there was no space to 
spare between the river, the railway, and the precipitous walls. 
If the Bulgarians seized this point all access from the south into 
central Macedonia was barred. 

Bulgarian raiders had early in the month cut the railway at 
Strumnitza station, which was six miles from the frontier, and about 
twenty-five from the Bulgarian town of that name. On 19th 
October the French advanced guards reached the place, and drove 
out the enemy. Four days later, on 23rd October, the rest of the 


division began to arrive, and detachments were ferried across the 
swollen Vardar, and seized positions on the left bank. On 27th 
October the French occupied Krivolak without difficulty, and 
pushed posts farther up the line towards Gradsko. Sarrail now 
held a position from north of Krivolak to south of Strumnitza 
station, while the British loth Division extended on the French 
right to Lake Doiran, to guard the flank against a Bulgarian attack 
from the Struma valley. 

Across the Vardar from Krivolak rose a steep wall of mountain, 
called Kara Hodjali. The height commanded this whole section 
of the valley, and its possession by the enemy would make the 
railway useless. Accordingly it was resolved at all costs to occupy 
it at once. The Vardar was in roaring flood ; there were no 
bridges, there was no time to get up pontoons ; but there was an 
old ferry-boat by which with much labour a French detachment 
was ferried over. The enemy on the heights was only advanced 
guards, and without much trouble the French scaled the steeps and 
established themselves on the summit. Two days later the Bul- 
garians, recognizing the value of the point they had lost, attacked 
in force, and were only beaten off after a fight with grenades at 
close quarters. On 4th and 5th November they again attacked, 
but the position proved too strong, and they were reduced to 
entrenching themselves over against the French on the flat crest. 

While the command of the Krivolak-Strumnitza section of the 
valley was being secured, the French had turned to the main 
object of their advance. Veles and Uskub were now held by the 
enemy, and he was pushing northwards over the Katchanik Pass, 
and southwards against the Serbians, who at the Babuna Pass 
guarded the road to Monastir. The Babuna Pass lies twenty-five 
miles due west of Krivolak, and the country between is rugged 
and difficult. The only road is one which runs from Krivolak to 
Prilep, by Negotin and Kavadar. The Tcherna, or Black River, 
deep and strong, which joins the Vardar between Gradsko and 
Krivolak, was spanned by a wooden bridge at Vozartzi, and a 
few miles farther on a similar bridge crossed the Rajetz torrent. 
North of the Rajetz, between it and the Babuna Pass, is a wild 
tangle of mountains, which rise in the peak called Archangel to a 
height of nearly 4,000 feet. Early in November, after the first 
Serbian success at the Babuna had been nullified by the arrival 
of Bulgarian reinforcements, and the defenders had been driven 
back to the crest of the pass itself, the French column from Krivo- 
lak attempted to join hands with them. On 5th November it 


carried the Vozartzi bridge, and attempted to escalade the heights. 
The Serbians at the Babuna were, as the crow flies, only ten miles 
distant. The French moved ten miles down the left bank of the 
Tcherna, and then, turning westward, pushed half-way up the 
slopes of Mount Archangel. But by this time the Bulgarian army 
was in great strength, and the French had behind them a difficult 
and precarious line of communication — a crazy wooden bridge, 
twenty miles of bad road, and a hundred miles of a single-line 
railway. The first attack failed. Meantime the Serbians had 
been driven from the Babuna Pass, and all hope of effecting a 
junction was at an end. The Bulgarians by a turning movement 
were threatening to cut the French off from the Vozartzi bridge, 
and pin them against the unfordable Tcherna. The French com- 
mander did the only thing possible in the circumstances. He fell 
back across the Tcherna, and took up a position in what was 
known as the " entrenched camp of Kavadar," in the triangle 
bounded by the Tcherna and the Vardar. In addition, he held a 
bridgehead at Vozartzi, and opposite Krivolak he occupied the 
heights of Kara Hodjali. 

Such was the situation by the end of the second week of No- 
vember. The Allies were now themselves upon the defensive, in 
greatly inferior numbers. The triangle of Kavadar was a good 
position so far as it went, but it had the drawback that its only 
internal means of transport was the single and very bad Krivolak- 
Vozartzi road. Moreover, its sole line of communication with the 
base at Salonika was exposed through a considerable part to the 
fire of the Bulgarian artillery, and if the enemy chose to advance 
against it in force he must compel a retreat. It could only be a 
matter of days till Todorov's II. Army, all Serbian resistance 
being at an end, turned its attention to enveloping the far-strung 
Allied front. Once Monastir was taken, the left flank could be 
easily turned, and the right flank at Lake Doiran reposed on no 
natural defence against a movement from the Struma. The 
Allied endeavour had come to nothing. It had brought no shadow 
of relief to Serbia,* and it had found itself in serious strategical 
difficulties. The task set Sarrail was hopeless from the start, as 
hopeless as the task before Putnik. Indeed, it may fairly be said 
that the constant expectation of AUied help had gravely compro- 
mised the Serbian resistance. We have seen that the refusal of 
the British and French Governments to approve of an attack upon 

• Except in so far as Sarrail's operations delayed the occupation of the 
Katchanik and Babuna passes, and so permitted the retreat of the Uskub de 


Bulgaria meant that the chief Serbian effort was made on the 
wrong front. The fighting at Katchanik and the Babuna proved 
the prowess of Putnik's men ; but they were never allowed to 
show it in a major action. Defence and then withdrawal were the 
order of the day, tactics little suited to the Serbian genius. It is 
probable that the Bulgarian conquest would have been far longer 
delayed, and might even have grievously miscarried, if Serbia had 
been allowed to follow her instincts and had relied upon her own 

The war zone was now narrowed to the southern border of 
Serbia and the fifty miles of Greek territory between it and the 
port of Salonika. On i6th November the remnant of the Uskub 
garrison which had held the Babuna Pass retired on Prilep ; on 
2nd December they were forced back on Monastir, and evacuated 
that town on 5th December. To begin with, Monastir was ad- 
ministered by German officers, in order to avoid rousing the 
jealousy of Greece ; but in a few days the farce was dropped, and 
it was handed over to the Bulgarians. The position of Todorov's 
armies made it dangerous for Sarrail to remain longer in the 
camp of Kavadar, and compelled him to retire to the Greek 
frontier. As early as 27th November the troops holding the 
bridgehead at Vozartzi, on the left bank of the Tcherna, were 
withdrawn to the right bank. On the 2nd of December, while a 
detachment feinted eastward from Kara Hodjali, the French drew 
in their lines from the Tcherna to the railway, and began their 
retreat. The passage of the Demir Kapu ravine was not 
attained without hard fighting. The railway and bridges were 
destroyed behind them, and by loth December the French were 
clear of the gorge and in position along the little river Bojimia, 
which enters the Vardar from the east. On their right lay the 
British loth Division, which had been protecting the right rear 
of the advance to Kavadar. 

Meantime the British had been seriously engaged. They held 
the ground among the hills west and south of Lake Doiran, with 
their right crossing the railway which ran from Salonika by 
Dedeagatch to Adrianople. Todorov struck at them with his left 
wing, and on 6th December drove them out of their first trenches, 
and made retreat imperative. Next morning the attack was 
repeated, and slowly, at the rate of about two miles a day, they 
were pressed back from Lake Doiran towards the Vardar valley. 
We exacted a heavy penalty from the attack, and lost ourselves 
some 1,300 men, as well as eight guns, which in that rugged country 


♦ ♦ 



X It 





could not be moved in time. The Allies were now disposed from 
the mouth of the Bojimia south-eastward towards the village of 
Doiran. There was little time to waste if Sarrail was to avoid 
having his flanks turned, and by 12th December the French and 
the British had crossed the Greek frontier. The fourteen miles 
of the retreat had been completed methodically ; transport and 
stores were got clean away, and no food-stuffs remained in the 
countryside for the enemy. Railways and roads were wrecked, 
and the frontier village of Ghevgeli was left in flames. Such a 
retreat, with casualties which scarcely exceeded 3,000, was a 
piece of unlooked-for good fortune, since Sarrail had ventured his 
force into as ugly a strategic country as could be conceived. 

The Allies were now in position about thirty miles from the 
port, on a line running from Karasuli, on the Vardar and on the 
Nish railway, to Kilindir, on the Salonika-Dedeagatch railway. 
A branch railway connected the two points, and gave them lateral 
communication. It was a strong position, since it covered the 
main routes to Salonika, and could be reinforced at will. There 
were now in this theatre eight Allied divisions — three French, 
and the loth, 22nd, 26th, 27th, and 28th British. Any invasion 
could be held up long enough to provide for the creation of a new 
Torres Vedras based on the sea. The enemy had his right wing, 
the Bulgarian I. Army, from Lake Ochrida through Monastir 
and along the Greek frontier ; Gallwitz's XL Army — two German 
and two and a half Bulgarian divisions — held the centre to the 
north of Lake Doiran, with the Bavarian Alpine Corps in reserve ; 
Todorov with the Bulgarian II. Army lay to the east. 

The retreat from Kavadar brought to a head the unsettled 
problems between Greece and the Allies. M. Skouloudis had 
succeeded M. Zaimis as Premier, and it was his opinion that any 
Allied troops which were driven across the Greek frontier must be 
disarmed and interned. On 23rd November France and Britain 
presented a Note to Greece, asking for assurances that this should 
not happen, and guaranteeing that all occupied territory would be 
restored and an indemnity paid for the use of it. The first Greek 
reply was vague, and a second Note on the 26th reiterated the 
demand. Meantime the Allies acted without waiting for an answer, 
and when the reply came, a fortnight later, it was a compliance. 
Most of the Greek troops were removed from Salonika, and the 
whole " zone of manoeuvre," together with the roads and railways, 
was handed over to the Allies. Undoubtedly it was not an easy 
position for Greece, if she sought a correct neutrality, but it was 


the inevitable consequence of her acquiescence in the Allied landing. 
The Bulgarians waited on the frontier, but for the moment did not 
cross. Greece had announced with a certain voice that she would 
not permit her ancestral rivals to tread her soil ; and caution was 
enjoined on Bulgaria by Germany, who did not desire at the 
moment to have a belligerent Greece on her hands. 

The Allied statesmen had decided that Salonika should not be 
relinquished. Though the purpose for which its occupation had 
been designed had failed, there were insurmountable objections 
against letting it fall into German hands. It would provide a 
formidable submarine base in the Eastern Mediterranean. It 
would give Austria that lEgean port to which her tortuous policy 
had so long been directed. Accordingly preparations were made 
at once to defend it, as Verdun had been defended, by far-stretched 
lines. Salonika was, after Athens and Constantinople, the most 
famous city of south-eastern Europe. It had been the chief port 
of the kings of Macedon, and in its vicinity the fate of the Old 
World had been decided when Antony and Octavian defeated 
the murderers of Julius. Under the early emperors it was a free 
city, and the emporium of all the country between the Adriatic 
and the Marmora — the half-way house between Rome and By- 
zantium. It had seen many vicissitudes — the massacres by 
Theodosius, for which he did penance in Milan Cathedral ; the 
sack by Berber pirates in the days of Leo the Wise ; the capture 
by the Normans, with the short-lived rule of Boniface of Mont- 
ferrat ; the Turkish conquest under Murad the First ; Venetian 
rule ; the second Turkish dominion, which was destined to endure 
for centuries ; the arrival of the Jews of the Sephardim from 
Spain, which was the key to its modem history ; the inception of 
the Young Turk movement ; the conquest by the Greeks in the 
Balkan War, and the murder in its streets of the Greek king. 

In fortifying such a base it was necessary to find suitable 
points on the sea to form the flanks of the lines. Salonika lies at 
the head of the long gulf of the name, and, to prevent a turning 
movement of the enemy, a large tract of country had to be brought 
into the defended zone. West of the city is a swampy level ex- 
tending to the mouth of the unfordable Vardar. Due north is a 
treeless plain rising to a range of hills, which are continued up the 
Vardar valley, but farther east sink into flats, where lie the two 
large lakes Langaza and Beshik. The trough which holds the 
lakes is continued in a wooded valley to the Gulf of Orphani. 
The country between the Vardar delta and the gulf was an admi- 


rable position for defence. At the Vardar end the deep and wide 
river with its salt marshes constituted a formidable barrier to 
envelopment, and any attack from Orphani was made difficult by 
the mouth of the Struma and the long Tahiros lake. Further, at 
Seres, at the north end of that lake, a portion